USA's World Cup elimination brings increased scrutiny of MLS

It’s time to put down once and for all the grand misconception that MLS is obligated to develop players for the U.S. national team.

Every facet of the game in this country is coming under fire in the wake of a 2-1 loss in Couva Tuesday night that knocked the U.S. out of contention for the 2018 World Cup. Of the 14 players in that match, nine are currently employed by MLS teams, and three others – defenders Omar Gonzalez, Jose Villafana and DeAndre Yedlin – started their careers in MLS before joining teams overseas. Only forwards Bobby Wood – a native of Hawaii who has played his entire pro career in Germany – and Christian Pulisic have no ties to MLS.

Thus, MLS is a convenient target, and of course is being blamed for the lackadaisical showings in Couva and against Costa Rica in Orlando last month.  But if MLS is of such poor quality, how can Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama -- which all finished ahead of the U.S. in the Hexagonal -- succeed with many league representatives in their lineups?

The answer is that the respective head coaches did an excellent job melding the MLS players with the others at their disposal, and the players themselves brought their full focus and intensity to the task at hand. Head coach Bruce Arena and his players, as he said, did not do their jobs.

The case of Bradley and Toronto FC. To that point, how can midfielder Michael Bradley, in particular, look so good for the dominant team in MLS, Toronto FC, and so clueless against Trinidad and Tobago? The easy answer, of course, is that MLS is crap, but TFC certainly isn’t and if it played T&T would probably win.

The harder answer is that Bradley steps up his game playing alongside Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vasquez and against Sebastian Schweinsteiger or Ignacio Piatti. It’s not that Bradley can’t play well for the USA, the puzzler is that he – and too many teammates – can’t do it game in and game out. The dropoff in sharpness, both mentally and physically, from the pounding of Panama to the catastrophe in Couva defies simple explanation.

The fault is partly Bradley’s, but the environments in which he plays must take some blame as well. At 30, he should be under pressure for both TFC and the USA to keep his spot. TFC has several younger midfielders it can utilize if Bradley is suspended, away on international duty, or injured. For Arena, the choices are very limited.

Kellyn Acosta is a MLS Homegrown success story; an FC Dallas academy product who deservedly turns out regularly for the first team. But that didn’t stop FCD from signing a young Ecuadorean, Carlos Gruezo, who also plays central midfield. FCD has struggled this season and so has the 22-year-old Acosta, who didn’t excel as a U.S. starter last summer in the Gold Cup.

Losses were caused by bad plays across the board. Breaking down the defeats to Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago doesn’t square up MLS in the crosshairs. Across the board, the Americans faltered at the critical moments.

The first Costa Rican goal resulted from keeper Tim Howard (Colorado) taking a long goal kick rather than play it to either of his centerbacks, Tim Ream (Fulham) and Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), who were spread wide about 30 yards apart. They were in the right spots to avoid Costa Rican forward Marco Urena had he chosen to challenge either one of them for a ball arriving from Howard on a short goal kick, but out of position in case Costa Rica won possession back on a long kick and struck quickly down the middle. Which it did.

Howard rightly took blame for poor positioning on Urena's shot but with the centerbacks stationed where they were hitting a long kick made no sense tactically.

A scuffed pass by Cameron produced the second Costa Rican goal. What was he doing? Either he mishit the ball completely (error of technique) or didn’t see Costa Rican midfielder Daniel Guzman (error of perception). Either way it’s an egregious mistake and well exploited by the Timbers midfielder and Quakes forward.

During his days with the Galaxy, Gonzalez occasionally took criticism for “switching off,” probably the favorite soccer term to describe a brain freeze. The botched clearance by which he scored an own goal Tuesday was certainly a bit of bad luck but he wasn’t being jammed or charged by an opponent; he simply hit a slice that can only be blamed on sloppiness. It can’t be that hard to focus on a bouncing ball and put enough of your foot through it to drive it over the sideline.

A wonder goal by Alvin Jones might not have happened had Darlington Nagbe been able to get some pressure on Jones as he strolled up the flank. Nagbe had slid much too far inside to lend attacking support and thus had about 40 yards to cover when the ball was played wide to Jones. Apparently, nobody spotted the danger and sounded the alarm to get Nagbe into position.

The worst of many bad moments might have transpired when another long knuckler from Jones rebounded off Howard’s chest about 20 yards from goal and he had to chase down the loose ball himself. None of his teammates got anywhere near the ball the keeper knocked out for a corner kick.

Entering as a second-half sub, Clint Dempsey -- whose career has taken him from MLS to the Premier League and back -- livened up the attack and after forcing a save with a good shot hit the post on a bouncing shot. His energy and desire might have better served the U.S. as a starter, even if he couldn’t last the full 90 minutes, but Arena chose to start the same XI that had destroyed Panama. 

Too many international slots?
Advocates of promotion-relegation for MLS will bang the drum loudly in their corner but the problem goes much deeper. If the league, and by association U.S. Soccer, can be blamed in any regard it is the liberal allotment of foreign player slots (eight per team, and 176 league-wide for the 2017 season) and reduced salary-budget charges for young Designated Players, of which international players are preferred.

Cranking out U-17s and U-20s and U-23s and full internationals who wear the red, white and blue is all well and good, but as a league in the global game, MLS is about finding and developing talented players who can win games and/or be eventually sold at a solid price. While several teams such as FC Dallas, the LA Galaxy and New York Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake have pushed fair numbers through their academies to the first team, there’s also a good market for young international players. At RSL, U.S. defender Justen Glad and Venezeulan attacker Jefferson Savarino are both 20 and important contributors. Teammate Joao Plata arrived in MLS on loan from LDU Quito in 2011 when he was 19.

The international-player limit is subject to the approval of the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors and as the league continues to expand, it might be time to reduce the international slots, which can be used in transactions. Another option is to mandate playing time for younger players but by law the league could not specify the nationality of such requirements.

MLS commissioner Don Garber and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati have formed a friendship as well as a sound business partnership. But the goals and objectives of their respective organizations are not the same.

The discussion of balance between the native talent and foreign legion will always clash when quality of play is weighed against American representation. In the days of the old NASL, many head coaches -- very few of whom were American -- objected to a mandate they had to have at least two or three, depending on the rules in force for a particular season, North Americans on the field at all times.

(Actually, the rule was worded in reverse, along the lines of a team can have no more than nine non-North Americans on the field, so if a team had a North American sent off or had to leave injured with no subs available, it would not violate the rule. It was dubbed the “Non-American Soccer League” by a few critics.)

MLS initiated its Homegrown Player program in 2006, and four years ago mandated that all of its teams field boys’ squads at the U-14, U-16, and U-18 levels to play in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. It will take a few more years to evaluate how well the academy system is working and many teams must simply accept the fact that a lot of players are choosing college rather than a pro contract at age 18. MLS must also face the fact that academy products such as FCD graduates Emerson Hyndman (Bournemouth) and Weston McKennie (Schalke 04) may take the foreign route.

49 comments about "USA's World Cup elimination brings increased scrutiny of MLS".
  1. Sean Murray, October 12, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.

    Did this article just tell us there is too much competition from foreign players so we need to take steps to limit the competition to give U.S. players a chance?

    I reject the premise, U.S. players can compete but need more competition.  The greater competition in Europe is why the Euro U.S. players devleop so much better.

    The U.S. simply needs to take the approach of developing technique instead of focusing on athletes i.e. Altidore.

  2. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 9:36 a.m.

    In Europe they have strong foreign player limit rules that are designed to secure the development of their own players. If they didnt you would see all the top Euro teams full of South Americans.

  3. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:05 a.m.

    MS, you stated <"In Europe they have strong foreign player limit rules that are designed to secure the development of their own players"> Where have you been? The Bosman ruling in 1995 allowed freedom of player movement in Europe. This is why you see teams in Europe,for example in England  like Hotspurs or even Man. Utd  have so many foreign players that it is a shock if you find even 3 English players on the field. This is a major problem in a lot of Europen countries. Check out Barcelona and count how many spanish are out there. This is one of the major complaints in Europe that teams bring in foreing players hurting the development of their own players! You are totally wrong on that point...

  4. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    Look at Germany Bundesliga and get back to me. Engalnd is the worst example and always critisized for it.

  5. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:10 a.m.

    MS, obviously , you don't have clue about what's is really going on Europe over the past 20 years , all the teams have problems and are hurting and is affecting their youth development. Look at Bayern count how many German youth from Bayern all playing. It is similar everywhere in Europe. This is why teams are paying through the nose and would rather buy  foreing players instead of bringing up their own.  This is why Bayern has decided to invest 18 million in a new youth academy.

  6. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:18 a.m.

    Bayern is not the entire bundesliga and has never been known for its academy. How many foreignors in Brazilian league? Pro/Rel isnt it? Argentina? Uruguay? Seems like you dont have a clue

  7. Jay Wall replied, October 12, 2017 at 9:42 p.m.

    Published reports, see link below, support Frank Schoon's statement about player development by clubs in Europe. Soccer is big business in Europe and talents are developed for resale to elite clubs for a share in transfer fees whenever possible. If a player can't bring in a significant revenue for their club they are kept to give the developing club more depth for a low cost or as a local boy made good promo to generate more ticket sales and television revenue. It all business and only business. 
    A detailed study of 11,335 home grown players, playing for 460 professional clubs between 2009-2015, including clubs in all of Europe except Bosnia and Macedonia, can be found at 
    This report ranked, among other things, the % of home grown players by nation and the % of minutes played by home grown players in games. The percent of home grown players averaged 19.7% and ranged from a low of 8.3% in Turkey to a high of 34% in Balarus. The percent of minutes played in professional games by home grown averaged 16.3% of the total time of all players and ranged from a low of 5.1% in both Turkey and Belgium to a high of 31.8% in Czech Republic.
    There are only 24 clubs in all of Europe where home grown players account for over half of their teams squad. Most of these clubs are in central Europe. Gomel has a squad that is 92% players developed by the club. There are 436 clubs where home grown players account for less than half of their teams squad. Only three teams playing in the five major European leagues have home grown players playing over 50% of the minutes: Olympique Lyonnais (55.1%), Athletico Bilbao (53.1%) and Real Sociedad (50.1%). There are only 32 clubs in Europe who had no home developed players on their rosters in 2015. 
    In a report on the most promising U23's at it's interesting what clubs and nations were by 2015 being the most successful.

  8. M S, October 12, 2017 at 9:26 a.m.

    "But if MLS is of such poor quality, how can Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama -- which all finished ahead of the U.S. in the Hexagonal -- succeed with many league representatives in their lineups?"
    Is that a serious question?
    Answer: In those 3 countries they all have pro/rel systems under wich those players develop. They then get offers into Mls as finished youth products. Our Academy system is opposite and Mls run their own Academies. So yes they are to blame.

  9. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 9:32 a.m.

    And the Ussf is to blame even more so because they oversee Mls and are not setting in place the rules needed to improve our domestic players. Sunil should not look to be Garber friend.
    "Another option is to mandate playing time for younger players but by law the league could not specify the nationality of such requirements."
    By law I dont think that forcing players to play for their regional Mls team and no other under the age of 18 is legal but that doesnt stop Mls teams from enforcing them.

  10. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    MS. Pro/rel systems? really. That is not the case in Holland that's going throught a crisis . Pro/rel has nothing to do with the problem of development. Look at 3rd world countries, with the lack of financial support and structure but whose kids who can't even afford soccer shoes can outclass any of our kids at technical skills....Pro/rel is not the problem....

  11. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:55 a.m.

    Frank, the world doesnt revolve around what Holland does development wise. If you can understand this we can have a conversation. Pro/Rel is what the world does and when compared to what we do outclass us as far as product on the field is concerned by far. Pro/Rel undeniably creates more competition on all levels to succeed. It is constant. Our system does not. Pro/Rel creates a pressure system for all involved from owners to players and act accordingly. Our system does not. Our system caterd to whatever they think will sale more tickets. Like paying max $ to over the hill players that come to retire. Come on Frank. I think you k ow this.

  12. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 10:59 a.m.

    Those poor kids you speak of come out of system I speak of. When trying to get tgeir teams to the top under Pro/Rel owners are forced to scout the best possible pkayers no matter where they come from in every possible corner. Those poor players are not priced out of the higgest competition for that reason alone.
    In Usa, Mls banks on "satelite" teams and tell them they will get priority over nonmember players for DA spots. Some Mls teams have no interest in bringing in Top players at ages 16 and up because they cant say they develoed them no matter how good they are. Why? Because system simlly doesnt force them to.

  13. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:16 a.m.

    MS, Pro/rel is so far down the list of helping player development. Development of a player begins when they are young which is long, long, long time away from the Pro/rel situation. You can have the best Pro/rel structure in the world but that won't do anything about lousy player development in beginning stages. Look at England who has one the best Pro/rel system and look what they produce ..GARBAGE for players....

  14. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:25 a.m.

    Frank I agree with you on what develops a player mostly. No doubt. I agree fully that players should develop under no system but a creative freestyle one if at all.
    What Pro/Rel does is promote the right atmosphere for accurate and aggressive scouting for those magical players. Our system promotes more than any other system yo win at all costs at U10 and charge crazt money to do so. It promotes park disitrcits raisning their fees to use fields and even not allowing kids to scrimmage on them for free because of all the money they see being made.
    I am talking about the bigger pocture of what Pro/Rel brings. The culture it brings. For every 1-2 bad examples of Pro/Rel you have I can bring 100. The reason it doesnt work to develop English players has more to do with how many foreig ors are allowed to pkay than the system itself. Pro/Rel system in England actually makes owners scout the entire world for the very best.

  15. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:53 a.m.

    MS, that's my point ,it is not only in  England. Cruyff wanted to establish a rule that all teams in Europe would follow a rule that at least 6 players on the field would to be home grown or from their country. This problem is ever present and does not only apply to England but the WHOLE of Europe.... The problem is everywhere in Western Europe..

  16. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:53 a.m.

    MS, that's my point ,it is not only in  England. Cruyff wanted to establish a rule that all teams in Europe would follow a rule that at least 6 players on the field would to be home grown or from their country. This problem is ever present and does not only apply to England but the WHOLE of Europe.... The problem is everywhere in Western Europe..

  17. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 12:39 p.m.

    Frank and I agree with Cruyff. I would even say more domestic players and less foreignor rules. That rule still needs Pro/Rel to make it highly competitive and no doubt bith dont get anywhere without the creative and skilled players street soccer produces. I dont think we are disagreeing much.

  18. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 12:54 p.m.

    MS, as far as the American scene....they need help bad as making player and I don't see pro/rel as being THE major initial impetus in improving that situation. Here, I do think we need more foreign players in order to develop our players for who are they going to learn from American players. Don't you think playing next to a Schweinsteiger or a Henri  would help you learn the game better or would you rather choose to play next Michael Bradley....Duh.... Pro/rel is much, much further down the list when it comes to improving players as far as I'm concerned...Let our players first learn to play the game properly and that is done learning from good foreign players

  19. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 12:54 p.m.

    MS, as far as the American scene....they need help bad as making player and I don't see pro/rel as being THE major initial impetus in improving that situation. Here, I do think we need more foreign players in order to develop our players for who are they going to learn from American players. Don't you think playing next to a Schweinsteiger or a Henri  would help you learn the game better or would you rather choose to play next Michael Bradley....Duh.... Pro/rel is much, much further down the list when it comes to improving players as far as I'm concerned...Let our players first learn to play the game properly and that is done learning from good foreign players

  20. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

    Frank you think out players will learn from watching foreign players play in Mls? That makes no sense. Hardcore fans and soccer players will watch many leagues before they watch an Mls games and rightfully so. Players get better primarily from playing and playing the right style is as important. Not by watching others play. Sure it creates competition for a spot but under our system if a domestic player is as good or even slightly better than a Brazilian who do you think will get the spot? Who will sell mote tickets? Come on Frank. You know this. Dont disappoint me.
    Pro/Rel on its own will not develop playmakers but it is the motor needed to upstart great competition to find one and develop one. Now it becomes more about surviving to stay in 1st division and not just selling tickets with bogus signings. 
    Add Training Compensation into the mix and now you have clubs incetivised to change their methods to more aboit developing top players vs winning state cups or DA Nationals.
    This is undebatable. This is a better system for those magical players that come out of streer soccer to flourish in and who will now be scouted more than ever because of those 2 factors. This sends the message out to all tjose kids that there is great future in soccer in Usa regardless of your income.
    This is common sense.

  21. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.

    If you are already playing in Mls at 25 years old next to Bastian how much more are you really going to learn as a player?
    Like you said before the most important development years are age 6-14 where street soccer should come in to play. Thats where the magic happens mostly and thats what pro/rel and training compensation will reward and therefore encourage.

  22. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 3:41 p.m.

    MS, come on , do I have to spell it out for you. You play with the players like the ones I have mentioned  for they will teach you the ropes out there to younger players, they will guide them ,and tell you what you are doing wrong and how to improve. You think Cruyff learned on his own , no ofcourse not, for he learned the ropes from the older better and more experienced players. This is why a team tries to keep a good balance of about 7or 6 older experienced players to about 3 or 4 young players. Read some biographies from good players and they'll will always mention who they learn from. 

  23. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 4:44 p.m.

    Im more worried about the quality of domestic players going pro than the ones already pro learning from Bastian. 2 big differences. How much better can his experience make a B-C player, world standard, when compared to a B+ to A- player?
    To me its more impprtant to have the system in place to get top fresh talent into the league over seasoning the C level players we are producing.
    Sorry but not more important to me to slightly improve the 20-25 year old domestic players developing in current system.
    I say change the current system to pro/rel and training compensation and you will have better players to teach and season.

  24. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 5:16 p.m.

    MS, You have to have a mixture of better players who have played at a much higher level to teach in order for players to learn and develop. At Ajax you have retired players teach the younger one the insights the shortcuts, the savviness of the game .  This happens at all levels and stages of  development by Ajax,no matter the age.  Who is teaching the high level stuff to the American players, at the DA level, LOL (some retired MLS dude or some coach with a license). You need a higher level input to produce better quality players which the American soccer scene has not been able to figure out for it has  produced nothing but stiffs a programmed robots in the past 50 years, not even the law of average has helped. 

  25. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 6:26 p.m.

    We havent produced one single world class player and what differentiates us to the rest of the world is pay to play, no pro/rel and no training compensation. Simple as that.
    I agree with you that better players teach the rest. Thats the system put in pmcae by pro/rel. The race to get the best talent to the 1st team by promotion. U15 to U17 team. U17 to U20 team. The pro/rel forces this system as neccessary to survive. Training compensatiin gives small clubs the incentive to promote this. 
    Just to scout for the possible talent and to develop it pro/rel and TC are needed. Undeniably. Our current system has no real need of putting any domestic talent 18 year olds to play with Bastian. Thats the problem. 
    I dont quute get your argument against pro/rel.
    What i suggest is developing better talent to develop under Bastian.

  26. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 7:05 p.m.

    MS, the bottom line is good development of the players which has nothing to do with pro/rel. There is a lack of good training in the world not a lack of  Pro/rel. The quality of the players has gone down hill everywhere in the world. As Cruyff states when he compares the technical level of players of when Cruyff played as compared to today he would give the former an 8 and latter a 5.
    Players in Holland as in England have pro/rel since the 50's and even earlier in England but it has nothing to with the crappy players England produces or what is going on Holland. Germany decided to change their style of training for their soccer had become garbage not due to any lack of pro/rel, but to bad development techniques. Germany caught in the bud early but Holland didn't...
    Cruyff's sees today lack of good quality of soccer not to anything due to pro/rel which all countries have in the world but due LOUSY development training. But you tend to tie it to an issue of pro/rel, be my guest....

  27. M S replied, October 12, 2017 at 7:21 p.m.

    Frank yes there is a  of good training but we both agree street soccer is even better for development at toung ages. So what sparks the interest in playing on the streets which would mostly happen in the barrios and poor neigborhoods? 
    Knowing that there is a realistic opportu ity for you to be scouted and broght in cost free.
    What promotes this aggressive scouting and investment?
    Greater competition and need to scout, aquire and develop the very best availabke talent in every corner.
    What system provides this at a greater pace?
    Pro/rel and paying training compensation.
    Quite simple.
    You think you are the first one with the great idea of stating that we need better training?
    Question is why Mls clubs and any club for that matter really see the need to have great coaching under this current system? Do memberships depend on it?
    Does remaining in1st division really depend on it?
    Frank you dissapoint me man.

  28. ROBERT BOND, October 12, 2017 at 9:33 a.m.

    let's look at the real problem-lousy coaching from u6 up........coneheads, endless small drills that now ussf thinks you can computerize, not enough scrimmagesbetween teams or even just your offense v your kid keeps for 2 club teams, they never practice set pieces, so they suck at them, nobody knows what to do, tell him just to run over "defenders" who just stand there and get in his health care, answer easy-mach wie Deutschland...

  29. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 11:02 a.m.

    Robert, I agree we have lousy coaching(licensed) . But if you think the problem is coaching, then you've have missed the point. Up until the age of 14 kids shouldn't be coached but only guided. Kids should be guided by someone who has played at a good high level. Up until 14 the kids should be allowed to experiment and not be told by some idiot with a license "pass it, get rid of it, one-touch it, switch it, overlap",etc. As  Cruyff, states you bring in tactical concepts around 14 and not before,but instead allow them to play and experiment, like they did in street soccer days where there were no coaches. Cruyff stated that coaches have more potential to do bad than good. I don't know how old your son is but I wouldn't waste my time on dead ball plays for that has nothing to do with the playing of soccer (priority wise) Dead ball plays would come at a much older age since I would rather spend practice time teaching kids more important aspects, kicking/ passing techniques learning to place a ball properly which I don't even see at MLS level; decent crosses are a rarety. How many kids can even cross and place a ball on the run, head high, or waste high in front of the goal. I realize your son is a goalie and he needs to learn that aspect of dead ball plays, so in that situation you're right. But I would teach that aspect for his benefit only  but not for the benefit of the field players to learn from for I find there is so much more important things to learn in soccer, first.

  30. ROBERT BOND replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:37 p.m.

    frank i joined a team last year that had never won more than 3 games.early on we gave up lots of set piece goals and scored none. practicing this we reversed that, one of the reasons we went 11-0-1......if you think endless 3v3 in 20 yard cone areas beats addressing specific concerns, that's what i'm taiking about-welcome to USA soccer! German sides train on these routinely, up to 23% of goals come from them......

  31. ROBERT BOND replied, October 12, 2017 at 2:39 p.m.

    in addition to crossing drills and wall pass drills, if you want to cross better-do short corner drills...

  32. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 3:59 p.m.

    Robert, it has become a standard thing and more and more important in the past 20 years, to practice dead ball plays by teams who lack offensive abilities. Because soccer has gotten less and less artistic, less offensive  dead ball plays have become more and more  of a larger part of the offensive strategy.  Countries who were never strong in soccer have given
    better soccer playing countries a run for their money for example  to park the bus in front of the  goal  and hope for corner kicks or fouls creating dead ball plays to win. It has worked from time to time and it is part of the game. But great soccer like what we see of Barcelona, Real Madrid, etc is not known for dead ball plays in scoring but playing attractive soccer. Dead ball is part of the game and should taken advantage of but when a team spends quite a bit of time practicing that says more about the team itself.  When you play smart teams like Barcelona's Dream Team for example who had small defenders make sure not to commit stupid fouls or corners and play a high pressure defense in the opponents third, thus dead balls allmost  inoperable...

  33. frank schoon replied, October 12, 2017 at 4:11 p.m.

    Robert, no matter ,the practicing of short corners, long corners, low hard drives for corners or whatever ,it all comes down under the heading of passing/kicking techniques and once you are  prolific at that you can make any kind of cross you or direct kick you choose. 

  34. ROBERT BOND replied, October 13, 2017 at 9:15 a.m.

    set pieces are into crowds, not open field pretty play...

  35. ROBERT BOND replied, October 13, 2017 at 9:19 a.m.

    you pull for a country that gave up a lazy header to los tres, i pull for Matt Hummels et al------who practices set pieces, and who is sitting home watching the other...?

  36. frank schoon replied, October 13, 2017 at 11:02 a.m.

    ROBERT, I don't really care who pulls for who or who pulls for what, that is not part of the discussion. If you don't understand what I was trying to say, so be it ...have a nice day...

  37. beautiful game, October 12, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

    90% of defensive backs boom the ball under pressure, team ball possession is streaky (how many times one sees exchange of possession 3 or 4 times in a row), too many midfielders are clueless at ball distribution, and attackers overeact in many cases by taking shots too early...physicality rules and the officials enable it...that's the MLS in short; a few solid players on each squad stymied by mediocre ones who are incapable of delivering the ball with the proper pace to the proper target. So how can a player with potential develop under such circumstances. In the last 20 years how many top quality field players have we developed? We should learn from the lips of Pulisic and Rossi, American youth players, who honed their skills abroad and get their insights on why they succeeded. That would be a good first step in order to reinvent the development system. 

  38. R2 Dad, October 12, 2017 at 11:26 a.m.

    "players are choosing college rather than a pro contract at age 18"? Maybe for the women, but male youth players are not going down that path because it's a dead end.

  39. Ridge Mahoney replied, October 12, 2017 at 7:49 p.m.

    many are doing just that. Now, I'm not saying all of them have been offered first-team deals but the college option can be more attractive than a reserve/supplemental contract or USL deal. Not judging one way or the other, simply stating that the power of education is prevalent in this country. 

  40. Miguel Dedo, October 12, 2017 at 12:19 p.m.

    Thanks Ridge for a thoughtful piece.  Your thesis is that US players are under more pressure to perform on their MLS teams than they are on the US national team -- this because on their MLS teams they must compete with international players for playing time.
    Thee may be something to that, given that US losses this qualifying round have been in large part because of underperformances of players. It is instinctive to blame the underperformance on fatigue, your may be a better --or at least a complementary -- explanation.
    Can you relate this to the US national team being beaten frequently by Central American players who play in the MLS?

  41. Mark Walker, October 12, 2017 at 4:09 p.m.

    The answer is quite simple. In which other federation, after a historically humiliating elimination from WC qualifying, would the coach have his job 48 hours later? That's USSF and soccer in the US in a nutshell. Everybody gets a trophy.

  42. Ridge Mahoney replied, October 12, 2017 at 7:44 p.m.

    press conference Friday, easily within the 72-hour window during which terms of separation have been negotiated.

  43. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 11:53 a.m.

    He's out as of today.  Obviously he was never going to stay on after we were knocked out.  Whether it happened yesterday or today doesn't matter.

  44. Mike Coliton, October 12, 2017 at 5:28 p.m.

    1. I read this article today, see below:  Assuming this is America's "Best," this list is a microcosm of the under performance of the USMNT, missing out on the past two Olympics and now the World Cup. Of these 21 players chosen, I see only Taitague, Perry, De La Fuente, Brewer, Torres, Uribe, and Scott dedicated to learning their trade as full time professional footballers. Now some on this list are not yet age 18 but you see the point. The skill developed on the professional training grounds of Europe today provide in six months what takes a college player 4 years to accumulate, and these professional players are receiving the best training these professional clubs can provide. They are learning to compete every day for a contract, something these highly prized college guys will not learn, and possibly never learn if they go the easy MLS route, a third tier league without relegation battles. All these guys that are over 18 and staying in the US via Academy, MLS, or College are not yet serious or dedicated enough toward the profession. Yes, being a professional footballer is a trade learned, such as a plumber, electrician, etc.., and only though proper apprenticeship can they learn their craft. Until the USSF figures this out, we will continue to miss valuable Olympic and World Cup qualification, and will never be a competitive national team.


  45. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 2:13 p.m.

    Guy can't move abroad until they are 18 and even the oldest of these guys are only 18.  In any event, I agree that going to college doesn't show ambition but there's nothing wrong with starting out in MLS.  Get over the MLS hate.  

  46. aaron dutch, October 13, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    Lets be honest, the rest of the world has as development model with ROI for the best players to be sold. We don't so building academies for fun, or do gooders (me), branding (NYCFC) or late tweeks to player dev(MLS) is the only reason we have them.

    If we changed 1 rule at it was the ability to have solidarity payments everything would change over the next 8-10 years. There would be 1000's of academies (most would be lame) but the few dozen best academies producing the best players sold everywhere in the world (like everyone else) would rise to the top. Then those players would be the foundation of our national teams. If we also had a title IX piece to make sure female player development could grow we would become a true football power. 

    When it comes to MLS this system would drain their swamp:) and would require them to compete for young talent and become more development based. If not their product would get worse.

  47. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, October 13, 2017 at 3:26 p.m.

    We are already a true power in women's football - don't you remember the USWNT won the last world cup?

  48. M S, October 13, 2017 at 11:13 a.m.

    Ussf would be reluctant to do this because that would expose the clubs they appointed as the best picks for the DA. 

  49. sean kerns, October 15, 2017 at 3:49 p.m.

    US needs better scouting selection of young players in the U.S.,meaning scouts need to go into neighborhoods(URBAN,SUBUBAN,and RURAL) where young players are ACTUALLY living,not primarily depending on college players,,,youth academy needs to reach soccer players living everywhere in the US..

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