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U.S. talent search, Part II
by Paul Kennedy, June 16th, 2011 6:24PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, mexico


[USA CONFIDENTIAL] For the time being, more promising young Americans are trying their luck overseas than in MLS, but breaking into the first team at a foreign club, let alone landing a steady starting job, remains difficult. Only two Americans under 23 have started more than 30 league games. For more on the young Americans playing abroad ...

Part I: Young MLS talent

Of the 17 Americans under 23 who made league appearances at the top two levels of foreign clubs in 2010-11, only Norwegian-bred Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek) and Joe Benny Corona (who helped Tijuana win promotion to Mexico's First Division) have started more than 30 games. Only seven have made more than 10 starts.

Even U.S. stars Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu have had a hard time holding down starting jobs. Altidore and Adu have started an average of only eight and five games a season, respectively, since moving to Europe.

The third foreign-based U-23 on the U.S. Gold Cup team is defender Eric Lichaj, who started for the first time in 2010-11 in his third season in England.

Timothy Chandler, who debuted this winter at German club Nuremberg, turned down a Gold Cup call-up to rest.

The next season should see how far along such promising players as U.S. U-20s Sebastien Lletget (West Ham) and Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim) are.

U.S. U-23s Abroad*
GS Player (2010-11 Team, Country) Age
44 Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek, NOR) 20
35 Joe Benny Corona
(Tijuana, MEX) 20
24 Jozy Altidore
(Bursaspor, TUR) 21
20 Freddy Adu (Rizespor, TUR) 22
19 Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa/Leeds, ENG) 22
11 Timothy Chandler (Nuremberg, GER) 21
11 Eugene Starikov (Tom Tomsk, RUS) 22
8 Daniel Williams (Freiburg, GER) 22
8 Joshua Gatt (Molde, NOR) 19
7 Gale Agbossoumonde (Djurgarden, SWE) 19
5 Conor Doyle (Derby County, ENG) 19
1 Tony Taylor (Estoril, POR) 21
1 Alfredo Morales (Hertha Berlin, GER) 21
0 Greg Garza (Estoril, POR) 19
0 Samuel Petrone (Mjallby, POR) 21
0 Adrian Ruelas (Santos, MEX) 20
0 Bobby Wood
(1860 Munich, GER) 18
*Players under-23 who made first-team league appearances in 2010-11 for foreign clubs in the top two levels.
GS=career games started for foreign clubs in the top two levels.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
    Altidore and Adu are not delivering the extra quality and that's why they have limited statrts...adaptation has not sunk in for them.
  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.
    I thought Diskerud looked good in his limited time with the US team. Why wasn't he at least brought into camp for the Gold Cup? Chandler needed a rest? I don't know Corona, but being Latino will not help him getting a call up from Bradley.
  1. Leland Price
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
    In terms of finding new talent, there is a structural problem in the US - the college game. That is, players with great potential as teenagers, attend college and end up playing for conservative coaches with little or no international experience. These are coaches who have something like tenure and don't want to make waves. They will bench "creative" players or go with a slow, stodgy system as opposed to a quick innovative system. Talented players will waste four years of prime playing time under these kinds of coaches - which appear to be the rule, not the exception.
  1. Jamie Nicewander
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 6:07 p.m.
    I partially agree with Leland Prices assessment. The College game does hamper soccer a bit (and indirectly helps it) because many college coaches do not coach...they scout,,,There are some that do, and those that do coach win! There is much truth to the college maxim "Scouting kicks the heck out of coaching any day of the week", albeit this maxim applies to the professional game also. I think the scouting system is what needs to be fixed-it is almost completely politicized at this point with very little diversity. At the youth level as well, as the mentality of our youth programs is to take all the best players in a league and put them together to beat the lesser less experienced players who are new to the sport. I comically (and sadly) watch this take place in local leagues all the time as coaches try and make a name for themselves.
  1. Jamie Nicewander
    commented on: June 17, 2011 at 6:11 p.m.
    Coaches do have 'tenure' of sorts, as many AD's do not place soccer programs on the forefront of importance in their athletic programs,,,we are still a red headed step child (forgive me RED). Soccer is still relgated to 3rd or 4th place in importance so the win/loss botomline is waved. If coaches don't qualify for playoffs in their perspective regions in 3 years (maybe 2), get rid of them. ohhhhh but thats right, in America we value academics too, I almost forgot how important that bachelors degree was for Messi,Beckham Ronaldinho, Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo etc....
  1. Roger Sokol
    commented on: June 18, 2011 at 4:02 a.m.
    I think Mr. Kennedy misses the point again. In most European Leagues, you won't find many U-23s starting in any case. If they do, then they are usually extraordinarily talented players. It's probably enough if foreign based US U-23 players are getting some playing time -- even as subs -- so long as they continue to develop and mature.

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