Villa and Ardiles Decision: A Lesson for the US Bid


Both Ricky Villa and Ossie Ardiles spent time with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Villa featured prominently in the 1983 NASL side alongside among others, Brian Kidd, Nene Cubillias and Ray Hudson. Villa was such a hero among Argentine fans, I can still hear the cries of “Villa!” from the stands at Lockhart Stadium over a quarter century later.

Ardiles, was the headline signing that got the APSL Strikers some ink in 1989. Of course, Ardiles broke our hearts that summer by deciding to go back to England to play for Swindon Town FC, but now he and Villa have really broken our hearts. Villa and Ardiles have opted to back England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup openly.

The two Argentine World Cup legends are certainly within their rights. Both featured prominently for Spurs in the 1980s but in Villa’s case he came to Fort Lauderdale thanks to the Falkland Wars and the hostility he and Ardiles suddenly faced in England. Villa found refuge in South Florida’s large Argentine community, and played fairly well with the Strikers in 1983.

But the decision by the two Argentine legends cuts deeper than simply backing England’s bid. As more and more footballers recount their positive experiences in England’s old first division or Premier League, the US presumably in a competitive bidding process must counter at least in a token fashion.

At a time when the USSF, and associated parties have ramped up an effort to bring the World Cup back to the United States, the two Argentine legends joining the effort by the English FA to secure the 2018 World Cup to me is very telling. With a large number of former NASL players who speak well of their experiences in the United States still playing a prominent role in Global Football, why has the USSF not secured the public support from any of them?

The American bid is long on political and institutional American support, but short on real support from the global football community. The USSF has done an outstanding job in reaching out to business leaders, media personalities, state governors ( California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger ) and university presidents (University of Miami’s Donna Shalala), but the lack of a former international star of Ricky Villa’s stature on the US support list is glaring.

The World Cup requires both institutional support and strong backing from the global football community. No question exists that the United States has a more developed sporting infrastructure that will serve FIFA’s needs when compared to the other bids. But does it have the sentimentality or the credibility that former footballers are bringing to England’s bid? Not yet.

Greater esplanation of my thoughts on the subject can be found here.

13 thoughts on “Villa and Ardiles Decision: A Lesson for the US Bid”

  1. You really need to change the name of this site to something other than “Major League Soccer Talk”. I see a lot of talk about USL, the USMNT, CONCACAF, NASL, platitudes about Miami FC and El Tri…and a little about MLS.

    Maybe “North American Soccer Talk” instead. I like reading most of the articles, visit often and listen to the podcast. The name of the site seems a bit misleading, though.

    1. Hal,

      Point taken, but the site has grown organically over the last two years and I don’t plan on changing the name since there are a lot of soccer fans out there that come here for honest and critical analysis of MLS and also enjoy the analysis of everything else US soccer-related.

      The Gaffer

    2. We haven’t had a USL article in weeks here, and even though it is a US based league, most readers here seemed to find coverage of USL offensive so it has been moved to my personal site

      I’m sorry that coverage of a professional league based in the US, that has over 600 professional and amateur teams was so offensive some American soccer fans. These must be the same people who openly pulled for the Canadian team TFC, over a USL side with twice as many US eligible players in Champions League play.

      Reporting o the breakaway league has been moved ovr there as well for the same reason. If announcement affects MLS, then we will cover it.

      As for USMNT coverage, that is not going anywhere- sorry. That’s the coverage many of our writers take the most pride in , and from a website standpoint it makes sense- US Soccer like it or not is built around the national team much more so than the league. TV ratings, merchandise sales, and general media coverage bar this out.

      1. It’s nothing personal, Kartik. I enjoy reading about all American soccer topics on here and elsewhere and I understand the Gaffer’s reasoning. I was just curious why the site was called “MLS Talk” when much of the content on here covered something other than MLS.

  2. What about Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm? They’re pretty well known among the international soccer community and they’re a part of the USA Bid Committee.

  3. Tom,

    You are not seriously comparing Mia Hamm and Landy Cakes in international stature to Villa and Ardelis are you?

    They were WORLD CUP WINNERS, with Argentina no less. Endorsing England’s bid from these two is a big deal!

    We need Pele, Cryuff, Beckenbauer, Mueller, etc to weigh in on our side.

    We also have the disadvantage of distances between cities. While it did not bother FIFA in 94, it will now against England, Netherlands and Spain.

    2022 is also going to be tough if Australia gets their act together. We need all the backup we can get here.

    Good post Kartik, by the way. Hope the USSF reads it and reacts accordingly.

    1. They were WORLD CUP WINNERS

      Mia Hamm is a two-time World Cup winner.

      And a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, even though the award didn’t start until the latter part of her career.

      Ardiles and Villa weren’t exactly the stars of that ’78 team, anyway. Villa is mainly remembered by English people for scoring a famous goal in an FA Cup final (sorry, Kartik). Ossie’s long and unsuccessful managerial career somewhat overshadows his pretty-good-but-not-superstar playing career.

  4. I agree with LI Matt. Even when Villa came here, he was the 5th or 6th best player on Argentina. Donovan right now is a better international than either ever was.

    The point is England has secured perceived foreign footballers to back their bid. Even if we got some like Abdul Thompson Conteh, a great humanitarian by the way to talk about his MLS experience and back the US bid based on humanitarian reasons and opennes to Africans, we can fight back.

    Some people still have a fear of traveling to football grounds and matches in England. PL/eurosnobs can claim all is okay now in England, but a fear as I have stated before still exists. England is trying to change perception by having former players that are latin or african back their bid. We should be doing the same was my point.

    Comparing Donovan whom I consider a superior player to Villa and Ardelis was not my point, eurosnobs.

  5. Let me take it a step further…………These two guys have been glorified as legends by the British press eager to prove their league’s relevance historically. The top Argentines of that era (and arguably of this era also with the exception of Mascerano) go to Spain and Italy. In those days they went to France also.

    Eric Cantona is a legend because he played for Man U. Ask any real French football fan if he is a legend. They’ll laugh in your face.

  6. I agree- these guys are meaningless.

    We have an active player, Donovan, better than any current English player on our board. Who would England counter with? Wayne Rooney? John Terry? Both are not at Landon’s level. Mia Hamm is just icing on the cake. 2 time world cup winner. How many world cups has England won in the last 40 years? And these nobody players Villa and Ardelis, what have they won? The League Cup with Spurs?

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