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Leagues: MLS

An American Idea


With the recent proliferation of foreign players in Major League Soccer and the dumbing down of the quality of the league thanks to expansion and fixture congestion, it’s easy to be sour on MLS. I’ve been particularly disturbed by MLS clubs continued reliance on signing foreign players to plug holes in their side, when plenty of good American options exist. Given the kind of support a club like CD Guadalajara has south of the border and the talk that other traditional Mexican clubs feeling the blowback of South American influence on their league may mimick Chivas in the future, I believe the time has come for an MLS or USL-1/2 side to take the chance and field a team made up entirely of American nationals.

I disagree strongly with those people who believe importing foreign talent will continue to sell the beautiful game to the masses here in the United States. American fans eventually want to cheer for and take pride in home grown players. Foreign imports save David Beckham and in year one of the league Carlos Valderrama, Roberto Donadoni and Hugo Sanchez have done little to stimulate attendance for the league. Instead they have been used by coaches and managment too lazy to scout American players or simply who buy into the inferiority complex many have about American players. The time has come for some bold club to step forth and make this change.

With so many people being attratced to the game outside of MLS or USL markets the club that takes my suggeston would suddenly find itself with a national constituency and national fan base. This isn’t 1983 when American players for the most part were truly inferior, and Team America an entirely American squad finished bottom of the table in the NASL. With five consecutive World Cup appearences and countless deep runs in Youth World Championships behind us, it is time for some bold club to step out of the clutter and put its faith in the American player.

As for candidates for this I have a couple of suggestions: The Kansas City Wizards, The Richmond Kickers and the Carolina Railhawks. All three clubs have had decent succeess with foreign players at their respective levels in their leagues, but all three represent a consituency more middle America, than lets say DC United or Chivas USA. Each club could build up its fan base through merchandise sales and marketing outside its home market.

I’m anxious to hear the thoughts of others on my idea, and what clubs do you think could pull it off?

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  1. undrafted

    September 22, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Qualifying for the 8th playoff spot in a 14 team still means you're below average. And KC probably won't do that this year. With MLS parity it's a small jump in the standings from near the top to near the bottom. But it's not an easy jump.

    And DC wouldn't need to use so many foreign imports if they bothered with using their picks in the first two rounds of the draft. Look at where the players from the 2004 champion roster came from. Gomez was the only import of note. This years Crew are on their way to the SS with only using 3 imports of note – Schelotto, Padula, and Ekpo.

  2. We Are!! KC Wiz!!

    September 22, 2008 at 12:29 pm


    I like where you're heart is on this one, but there's a line between being pro-Home Grown Player List (a current MLS initiative, in which all developmental programs associated with each team are made up of 90% local talent, from local high schools and colleges); and being xenophobic. As a team, I think that if you operate in the current rules of the MLS, in that you may only field 4-5 (I forget how much) foreign-born players on your team at one time, you are still championing American soccer. But to say that a team will refuse to sign foreign-born players would make that team appear backward and unprofessional. In addition, having 3 or so foreign players on a team whose American-born players are all from either coast is no big deal for KC. It's not the foreign-born players that alienate a mainstream following, it's the fact that, except for Jack Jewsbury (from 3 hours south of KC in Springfield, MO), there's really no Midwesterners on the team — they're all from California, Florida, and the East Coast. In a few years if we discover some real diamonds in our developmental program (nearly 90% KC-born and raised players), then you'll see a much greater increase in local interest for a team that runs at even 50% capacity full of native Kansas Citians.

    The other problem you see here is that even though our high school soccer programs are much better than they get credit for nationally (we can stand up with the best that the hollowed soccer town of St. Louis has to offer at Youth Regionals), we lack a major presence of college soccer. UMKC has a solid team for their division. But around here, Big XII rules! And due to Title 9, the Big XII lost its men's soccer programs. Not to discriminate against women's soccer — as I think with WPS starting up and KC eventually getting a franchise, Mizzou and KU women's soccer could help feed that need for local products. But having men's soccer at those schools (and decent ones at that) would be a major piece of the puzzle to get the mainstream of this town interested in the sport.

    Oh, and “undrafted”, KC's a breath away from playoff qualifying. They also qualified last year. And they embarrassed Beckham & Co. the other weekend. And Davy Arnaud won Goal of the Week. And we now have 2 more players with international caps. And we're days away from getting our new stadium approved. But keep on underestimating us, because it feels so much better when we win. Look for us in the Champions League next year.

  3. Pingback: 22 Sept. News and Blogs you might have Missed « Kansas City Soccer Review

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  5. From where I'm sitting

    September 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Dude, are you serious?

    This doesn't make sense. You say the league is being hurt in quality by the expansion, and your salution is to make an All American Team? I would agree if this meant filling a team with National team players. But we're looking for foreign players not because we're addicted. It's because we simply don't have the depth at home.

    Look at DC United, (my team) for example. Most of our vital starters are injured (and foreign). Now, we're airing our our bench, and we're getting destroyed. That's not because they don't have experience, it's because they don't have talent. The average exceptional college athlete is Not exceptional enough. Aside from Quaranta, we're screwed.

    And don't tell me that's because we rely to much on foreign players. It's because, when we can't start them, average american players suck. I only hope that the likes of Bradley, Adu, and Altidore make it home at the end of illustrious careers. Then they can be the Foreign influence. Till then, get a brain.

  6. Chris

    September 21, 2008 at 12:40 am

    There is no need to resort to nationalism in order for soccer to succeed. Let the established sports of baseball, basketball, and football rely on 'true blue' Americans. One of the most appealing elements of soccer is appeal to an internationalist culture.

    Nonetheless, MLS must still attempt to retain some of the best natives. I never question the wisdom of signing Landon Donovan.

  7. elisaFF

    September 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I actually think this would be a good idea and build alot of rivalry. I am not sure if it will be watchable in the initial stages, but you never know. I hope it will recruit the best and have a cantera or youth system that molds the best. Also a great scouting program. Without this, the team would not excel.

  8. undrafted

    September 20, 2008 at 10:23 am

    If you don't count Canadians, the Houston Dynamo are basically doing this. They picked up Kamara and Kpene midseason but could do ok without them. Caig is on his way out at seasons end. As for the Canadians, Onstad is nearing retirement. DeRo would be a huge loss, but Toronto or a new expansion team in Canada would hand over anything for him.

    ***random US GK***
    bench: ****lesser random US GK***, Ianni, Waibel, Camron, Ashe, Wondolowksi, Brown

    so they'd have to trade Kamara and DeRo for a couple of GK's and a striker or two

    KC could do it rather quick too, but they'd still be a bottom table team. Anyways it's not going to happen anytime soon.

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