Wednesday, August 17, 2011

U.S. National Team Players Just Don't Get Enough Minutes

There's an eye-opening article on about Americans abroad having a chance to impress new United States men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann--a clean slate if you will. The author makes the point that Klinsmann's philosophy is going to be so radically different from Bob Bradley's that anyone has a chance to make an impact with the #USMNT.

She scores more in Italy
than #USMNT players
Fair enough, and maybe so. Writer Avi Creditor makes his case well noting that Chris Rolfe, for example, has two goals in two games for his team in Denmark, and how Joe Corona is making his case in Mexico with Tijuana. Cool. Good enterprise angle. So is the reporting on how Americans have fared over the first two weeks of domestic play worldwide. Creditor went country by country, player by player providing details on how many minutes each played and whether they scored, etc.

If you ask me, that's the meat of the issue. It's not the opportunity these players have in front of them, but just how few minutes Americans with a chance to make the national squad actually play! In England, where the biggest pool of Americans swim overseas--where the likes of Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Eric Lichaj, Stuart Holden and others play--four of the 15 in England started their games. One, John Paul Pittman of Oxford United in League 2, came on as a sub. The rest were either not on the 18-man roster or were, but didn't see playing time. Says volumes if you ask me.

Let's keep going. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones - in the 18 for their respective squads and 0 minutes of live action. Same for Steve Cherundulo and Ricardo Clark. Carlos Bocanegra, the U.S. captain, not in the 18 for St. Etienne in France. Same story for Oguchi Onyewu with Sporting.

See where I'm going here? Our "best players" can't get on the field. It's great they're in Europe, being exposed to soccer cultures and supposedly better training and attitude about football. But what's the point if they're playing in reserve games and never getting a sniff of Sunday football?

What world football power operates this way with its players? Xavi and Rooney and Schweinsteiger, they'd be just as good for their respective nations if they sat every Sunday, correct?

To me, this raises tons of questions about the U.S.: Does our player selection just suck? Is the MLS single-entity system strangling national team development? Are we over-rating our best talent; worse yet, are our coaches and federation officials doing the same? They are supposed to be the experts here.

Kudos to Klinsmann for saying he needs more Latino influence in the #USMNT and for promising to play different faces and adopt a new philosophy. Maybe the answer is to open up MLS and make it more appealing and enticing for our best to play here in front of their national team coach. And yes, the U.S. needs more Latinos and more Euros, but only those who are playing ball every Sunday. Which is more than we can say for the Adus, Onyewus and Bornsteins of the world.

1 comment:

sajid ch said...

It will be sad to see you all go. This is one of the best blogs on the Offside. Best of luck to all of you