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MLS Youth Exodus?
ESPN Soccernet, January 30th, 2007 3:10PM

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MLS has a free trade problem, writes Jeff Carlisle of Soccernet. Some of the country's best young talent, including Giuseppe Rossi, Benny Feilhaber and Jonathan Spector, have all eschewed MLS in favor Europe.

While some will say the more American players in Europe, the better for American soccer, Carlisle points out that MLS, like any league, "is built on the backs of its homegrown players." In a best-case scenario, talented players would want to develop here, and then consider moving overseas in search of international stardom-just as they do like in Argentina and Brazil.

This year's MLS SuperDraft underscored that basic problem. Rather than stick around for the draft, arguably the college game's best prospect, Charlie Davies, opted for Sweden's Hammarby. Two other players, Robbie Rogers and Kamani Hill, didn't return for the 2006 college season and signed with Heerenveen and Wolfsburg, respectively. No doubt about it, European scouts will only ramp up their interest in American youngsters, because they're good athletes and they're cheap. The scouts do represent businesses, after all.

MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis tells Carlisle he doesn't see a trend. "I'd be worried if we weren't getting the vast majority of the important [players] for us, but I don't see that happening," He adds that if they go overseas and fail, then the next class may think twice before turning away from MLS. But what if they're successful? Read the original story...


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