Montero Called Up: Big News for MLS


Reports this morning out of Colombia indicate Fredy Montero will be called into the Colombian National Team. From my vantage point, this is a potential big step towards MLS regaining the ground its lost in South America since about the year 2000.

For years, I have stated that MLS’ quality of play and quality of international signing hit a high water mark in the 1998 to 2000 period and then dipped thereafter and has only begun to recover in the past few years.

I use as evidence the numbers of players called by non CONCACAF nations for World Cup qualifiers, Continental Championships and International Friendlies to back up my theory. I also compare games often: I have a number of games from the early days of MLS on tape, and the first touches and tactical formations were more consistent in those days if you could get beyond the awful kits and crazy clock rules.

Colombia was a prime example: From 1996 to 2000 they called in while active in MLS the following players for international matches including the 1998 World Cup: Carlos Valderrama, Henry Zambrano, Oscar Parreja, Leonel Alvarez, Adolfo Valencia, and Anthony DeAvila.

At that time as well, the core of the US National Team was in MLS. These days, fewer and fewer members of the US “A” team are in MLS, although the league boasts more Canadian national team regulars than ever before, which is in the leagues favor.

Colombian coaches have stated recently that MLS of today does not resemble from a quality standpoint the MLS that the likes of El Pibe and DeAvila played in. So strong was the contempt for MLS, that Juan Toja was called into the team immediately before he signed with Dallas, and right after he left but not while he was in the league.

Recently, I have found more people in the soccer press in the United States and among fans who agree with me about the general regression of the league’s quality.

Freddy Montero’s call up into Colombia’s National Team is a step towards MLS answering the critics like myself. Now if MLS can only improve its clubs play in CONCACAF, we’d be entering a brave new era in American club football.

11 thoughts on “Montero Called Up: Big News for MLS”

  1. Kartik, I agree re: the overall quality in the league, or at least how well it catches the eye. I watch more now because there’s a team in Seattle, but before I definitely watched more games in days gone by.

    Valderrama? Etcheverry? How could you not watch those guys? And not just flair players: there were no cheap goals when Eddie Pope was leading the back line for DC United. I just don’t see the same quality, the same wow factor.

    I can’t help but wonder if there’s better scouting in the age of the internet–how did a guy like Etcheverry never get to Europe? A guy like that could never fly under the radar these days.

  2. Even a MLS sycophant (wink, wink) like me will admit that the days of DC’s Magic Triangle have yet to be replicated by any MLS team in the 21st Century. But I disagree that international signings and callups should be the barometer of quality. Especially in a league that is designed for leagues to feature one or two stars and then fill their rosters with unproven (read: cheap) youngsters. The formula wasn’t different in 1998. DC United had Marco Etcheverry as their main guy and it just so happened that they could still afford Jaime Moreno and Raul Diaz Arce (check out the rest of the that roster). And despite his play in 1998-2000, the Bolivian national team ignored Moreno. Plus, many foreign nationals changed their mind about playing in the U.S. after 9-11. And Bush didn’t make any fans in South America during his tenure. Am I blaming Bush for the lack of quality signings in MLS from 2000-08? Why not? Everything else was his fault. If you really did compare taped matches from the different eras, that’s valid, but number crunching callups tells you little given single-entity economics.

  3. Kartik, all due respect, since when does MLS have anything to do with South America? I’ve lived in South America. It’s not what you think, neither negatively nor positively.

  4. Well, I doubt the MLS salary cap has increased at a rate equivalent to the rise in player salaries over the years. So from that perspective it is only logical that quality would have decreased.

  5. It is ridiculous to blame the state of MLS on G. W. Bush. Is he also to blame for the struggles of the NHL as well? If my car doesn’t start tomorrow is it his fault? The list of reasons why MLS has seen its quality drop is/has been discussed and G. W. Bush is not a valid reason.

    National team managers need to grow up a little bit. They should select the best team they can from whatever leagues their best players play in. If they choose not to do so then they are only harming their own national team with their own stupidity.

  6. Jack, I was kidding about GWB, although he certainly didn’t make a lot of friends internationally. But there were many international stars that didn’t want to play in the U.S. following 9-11; that’s pretty well documented. Who was talking about national team coaches?

  7. I hate to say it but Yankee Hooligan is at the very least partly right. I do know that was the initial reason MLS wasn’t able to replace the founding generation of international stars nor the later arrivals like Nowak, Stoichkov, etc with comparable players.

  8. kartik, great post – what in your mind is the structural reason that MLS has regressed tactically and technically since the late 9O’s?

  9. I think entertainment quality of MLS suffers for two reasons. Turf and the defensive road tactics employed by many coaches.

    The conservative road tactics may not be bad soccer for traditional, high soccer IQ fans, but that is not what we have in America. MLS needs to worry about the entertainment of the game rather than wins and losses. Kevin Payne of DC United has stated as much, challenging other teams to worry about entertainment just as much as winning.

    Winning is worth sacrificing the entertainment value only when you have a fan base that lives for their team. The team that they watch as a kid, the team that their dads watched as a kid. MLS does not have this, so entertainment, not just winning, should be a high priority.

    As for the turf, its just sucks. The ball just bounces around everywhere. It makes for very sloppy games.

  10. Whenever he scores at Qwest Field, a common cheer that goes up is “Rufio, Rufio, Ru-fee-OHHHHH!!” because he looks so much like Rufio from the movie Hook.

    Great player. When he’s not doing the scoring, at the least he’s a tackle magnet that makes opportunities for the other players.

    I heard a rumor he’d be heading to a European team next year, on account of the MLS salary cap. Anyone know if there’s any truth to that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *