Americans comprised less than one-third of starting field players in MLS's Week 8

The lack of Americans on the MLS scoring charts should not come as a surprise. Few Americans are starting in attacking roles.

Of the 68 field players eligible for the U.S. national team who started in Week 8, a majority -- 38 -- were defenders or wingbacks. Just 10 were forwards, and 20 were midfielders.

The number of field players eligible for the U.S. national team who started ranged from 10 in the FC Dallas-Philadelphia game -- the Union started a league-high seven -- to only one in the Portland-NYCFC game -- the Timbers' Zarek Valentin.

On only two teams -- Philadelphia and Real Salt Lake -- did Americans account for more than half the starting field players.

In no game were the majority of starting field players eligible for the U.S. national team, and overall they comprised less than a third of the starters.

MLS Week 8, USMNT-eligible starting field players:
10
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia (3+7)
8 Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado (6+2)
8 Columbus vs. New England (4+4)
7 LA Galaxy vs. Atlanta United (3+4)
7 NY Red Bulls vs. Chicago (3+4)
7 Seattle vs. Minn. United (4+3)
6 Orlando City vs. San Jose (3+3)
5 Montreal vs. LAFC (2+3)
5 Houston vs. Toronto FC (3+2)
4 Sporting KC vs. Vancouver (3+1)
1 Portland vs. NYCFC (1+0)
Total: 68/220 (30.9 percent).

Experience:
5 Rookies
5 2nd Year
5 3rd Year
5 4th Year
48 5+ Years

Positions:
10 Forwards
20 Midfielders
38 Defenders or Wingbacks
34 comments about "Americans comprised less than one-third of starting field players in MLS's Week 8".
  1. Kerry Solomon, April 24, 2018 at 6:36 a.m.

    My understanding was the league was established to develop US players with a limit on non-US players.  With many players from CONCACAF teams filling rosters, the league is developing our CONCACAF opponents, not our players.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, April 24, 2018 at 7:56 a.m.

    True Kerry, however if I’m the owner (money at stake), I put the players on the pitch that will give me my return. The real, problem-issue, is why our players lack, mostly, truly effective soccer attributes. It’s a rhetorical question, if you’re an old schooler.

  3. William Gerstmyer, April 24, 2018 at 9:20 a.m.

    “Why do Americans lack?” This old-schooler has been hearing this since before I played in the ASL in ‘79. 
    What is deep in your bones matters. My High School team had recently won the South Jersey championship when a group of German kids came over in an exchange program. One event of their stay was a soccer game against us. Despite the fact that only four of them played organized soccer in Germany, they beat us. Instead of being as skilled or fit, they had their heads up, knew the general flow of what is supposed to happen next in soccer, repeatedly attacked where they found us to have weakness until we compensated it (then amazingly zeroed in on what we’d given up to accomplish that), and made no obvious blunders. The same would happen if we sent exchange students overseas and engaged in a game of baseball or some other American-invented+saturated sport. 
    I played three summers with the Nigerian Junior National Team, and I travel all over the world and never fail to find as much pickup soccer as I want to play in. The kids provide their own brand of justice (ie, you dribble too much, you missed me when I was open, you were late getting back, I asked for it on my chest and you gave me a head ball, etc.) and coming from important peers these lessons are much more effective than when they come from a coach. Especially in the “making” of a forward where “what works” creativity and unpredictability is crucial, our soccer culture is too thin still, too much a desert in too many places, and of course gets watered down by all the other sports options that wick away some athletes who might have found their real calling in soccer. 
    I know Americans like to think we are on the cusp of getting there because we have had an astonishing run or two in the World Cup but the reality is that we have only one world class striker; we are still a group stage team or a one-and-done second round team and will hover there still for a while until kids grow their attack nuance and guile in the streets in their formative years.
    Because they are roles and have a slew of “best practice” rules, it is possible (even in America) to “make” a positional player such as a defender or a mid, or even an outside player who mostly serves the ball. But goal creating is a whole other ball of wax. 

  4. Wooden Ships replied, April 24, 2018 at 9:43 a.m.

    Good stuff William. We are like minded and from the same era. Kids/players learn more amongst themselves, far more than this US style reliance upon coaching. We do have and have had really talented players, including strikers, but they’ve been excluded. 

  5. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 9:53 a.m.

    William, hmmm, an interesting idea, PICKUP soccer <sarc. As an old schooler myself there is no other way. I wish the USSF would a serious campaign in nurturing pickup soccer.
    Go to Atlanta and see a sample of it, it's a start..
    The Black Soccer Culture No One Knew Existed - YouTube

  6. P T replied, April 24, 2018 at 8:56 p.m.

    Well put William. Pick up is the key point. When you are told what to do it does not become second nature and you lose the ability to problem solve. There needs to be more free play as well as free exchange of ideas rather than all tactics which lead to predictable play.

  7. frank schoon, April 24, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.

    The first thing to do is to study the foreign goal scorers and find out how they learned to play and developed in their youth and became creative players. This should be the first step for obviously we haven't produced a creative players in the past 50 years. 

  8. humble 1, April 24, 2018 at 10:21 a.m.

    Yet, street soccer will not solve all problems.  For example if all the street soccer players run into a wall because when they are 14 it costs the family an arm and a let to play...  Or if they are able to play at 14, but there are closed silos instead of a pyramid in their soccer community and they never get a look...  Or if their national pro-league plays all foreigners and gives college scholarships away to foreign players putting up another wall...

    You see - there is a a lot that can be done - but as long as it is the blind - leading the blind - very slow if any progress.

    Waiting for some sensibility to come from USSF - they can do a much better job to deploy their resourcs - and they should have a stronger relationship with MLS so there is at least some measure of local content in the pro league.  As the article currently points out - it is really at a low point.  Yes, we are fortunate to have a pro league, so maybe we need to be patient, but clearly, all sense of the altruistic purposes of a balanced national pro league has been lost currently.

  9. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 10:55 a.m.

    Humble 1, DUH, of course street soccer won't solve all problems. Kids that play street soccer later joined a club, adding to further development of the player. I can tell by your comments you weren't brought playing street  soccer. Playing street soccer teaches you to look up and avoid walls it teaches you balance so you won't fall on concrete, it teaches you to think about what your options are ,technically and tactically,  in relation to the surface you play on. Kids in our street soccer days never ever fell on concrete or came home with a busted elbow or knee, totally unheard of.
    As far as the National Pro league goes you bring in the players who are good...read Ship's comment on that. Same with bringing of foreigners for scholarships. As long as college coaches are judged by wins and losses, this situation will prevail. It is up to the USSF to devise better training programs( like Pickup soccer) to develop our American kids better so colleges can rely more upon  better American talent.

  10. humble 1 replied, April 25, 2018 at 12:44 p.m.

    f.schoon, I only noted that b.c. so often see street soccer as the answer to all soccer woes.  I did play on street and parks growing up - just hoops - not soccer.  Not exactlyl the same, but similar.  Just like organized soccer has it's limits to what it can give to a youths development so too does street soccer.  Ideally you have both.  The question is what comes first the chicken or the egg?  Seemingly street soccer would be easier, but it is not so simple in implementation were the rubber meets the road.  Ever been kicked off a beach or parks playing with a soccer ball?  I have as a kid and as an adult with my own children. But you had to grow up on the USA to know these things ;-).  It is easy for my kid to play pick-up when we visit his family in europe and south america, it is not so here.  But any kid can sign up for a club or play in middle, high or college school, that infrastructure exists, and we can easily improve the way we select and develop players within that context as well as how we utililzed it.  This is all.  I think we agree. 

  11. frank schoon replied, April 25, 2018 at 1:13 p.m.

    Humble ,I understand. Street soccer or pickup soccer is the main foundation of learning the game. It's not the chicken or the egg. No club, no coach can teach what  you learn playing pickup...it is that simple. What a club does is more team development which you have playing pickup as well. There is so much you can only learn playing pickup that can't  be learned in a club setting.
    A club is good once the players gained all the skills and street soccer saviness for than it is all about how you want to play.
    What is missing in today's players in America is the lack of playing pickup in the player's backround. That is why we don't have creative players but more programmed types due to club training.
    As far as space availability, the US is huge country compared to Hollland. I live in the DC area,so there are lots of people but there is plenty of space to play pickup .

  12. R2 Dad, April 24, 2018 at 11:53 a.m.

    I didn't have a vote in the recent election and these macro issues are endlessly frustrating so I focus on the micro--players I referee, kids I know from my kid's team. But I can see at this micro level why we are having problems referred to above. The two most talented boys I see regularly, a striker and an AM, get kicked incessantly. It's difficult at U16 to get officials to call a tight game to protect these smaller players because refs want to treat them like adults. So the players get injured, their development delayed. Life takes over, and before you know it they're 18 and lost to the system.

    On the girl's side, the most skilled players I see are diminitive and would NEVER get a call into a Nats camp. Seriously small, like 4'6" and probably 5'-0" when fully grown. But they're quick, smart, good in tight spaces, vision, able to build an attack--exactly the kind of creative/resourceful players you would think would be essential. I saw one MVLA team that had 2 players like that, but the Nats don't want them. Until we move away from our current MO--we get out of our defensive half we MUST launch a direct attack--the Nats will never need these small players anyway. Of course, only once our Nats teams get to the semifinals of any tournament, where we see the opponent has at least a couple of these players (in Japan's WNT case, half a dozen)--do we understand the shortsightedness of our ways.

    When we watch Giovinco in awe, don't for one second wonder why we don't have this type of player. Of course we do, every year we just ignore and allow to be ground down 20 Gios. 

    Rinse and Repeat.

  13. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 12:13 p.m.

    R2, "Rinse and Repeat", LOLOLOLOL, great line. About refs not protecting players due to size, that is not the real problem of our lack of creative players.  At Ajax Cruyff was placed at the wing just like Bergkamp when they are young playing agains older ,faster ,bigger players. This is how you protect them. This is also why Cruyff began moving away as a #9, centerforward,in the pros because he would have been seriously hurt. He began playing the false #9 that was introduced by Hungarian team in the 50's by Hidegkuti. It also forced Cruyff to make sure he would always receive the ball facing his opponent and not receiving the ball with his back to the opponent because is strong enough to receive the onslaught. This is why he continually moved around and always received the ball on the move and never stationary in order to avoid the tackle. So in other words when Cruyff stated for every disadvantage there is an advantage. By having a frail stature he learned to counter this by playing smarter, positionally, and tecnically and tactically...

  14. R2 Dad replied, April 24, 2018 at 4:10 p.m.

    True, Frank, but then you have to find a coach in the US that will play slow small players on the outside. If you're always breaking and attacking directly, those wing players will never get a touch. Maybe you're assuming a 4-3-3, but I rarely see that in club and highschool.

  15. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 4:59 p.m.

    R2, 433 with wingers,  definitely. I don't understand it either. The 433 is a perfect system...Barcelona. Barcelona proved it  with small players at midfield, Xavi, Iniesta...look at Messi..Barcelona also proved midfielders don't need to run ,for it all about quick ball movement...
    You want to see a little guy, JInky..
    Jimmy Johnstone - Proud to be a Tim - YouTube  we called him the flea

  16. Giorgio Cabanas replied, April 24, 2018 at 10:49 p.m.

    I get you boys comment but our women are pretty damn good. 

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, April 25, 2018 at 12:20 a.m.

    Giorgio, the US WNT are great, but they too need to get better. I think the players and coaches all understand that.

    R2 Dad, Barca played very direct, but also very disciplined. The 433 is designed for direct play. While Frank says that Barca showed that midfielders don't need to run, I think it is better to say that Barca showed that midfielder's don't need to "run far" off-the-ball. That is because they run "smart" instead of "far" to find space. I would say that Barca's play was very much influenced by Futsal. I assume you have played both Futsal and outdoors so you understand the difference in the typical movements off the ball. Outdoors there is oceans of space, but futsal teaches that you only need one step on your marker to be clear. Futsal isn't the secret--learning to play in small spaces is the secret.  

  18. frank schoon replied, April 25, 2018 at 9:44 a.m.

    Yes, you're right in what you're saying but Futsall has nothing to do with it. As matter of fact the way Barcelona plays follows the formula of how Ajax of the early 70's and Dutch of WC'74 played. That particular philosophy in how to play the game existed years before Futsall, which is a recent phenomena, ever came about.
    Letting the ball do the running, not the player, for a player can't outrun the ball, is the foundation.
    To open a passing lane requires a step or two or perhaps one, instead of what so often happens is that player will run 10yards to open up when all he to do is take a couple steps. This does not require you to have running speed of a gazelle or to have a body size of a Hulk Hogan; istead it requires to have good ball handling skills and brains, qualities that has nothing to do with size or speed. I always like reading on the screen as a player comes off the field stating that he 12-14kilometers, leading Cruyff to say often, "he certainly didn't play soccer" for a smart player like Xavi would have ran at most 7-8 kilometers. As Cruyff states the more you run the less technique and brains you apply. 
    Romario the Brazilian star, before he came to Barcelona, played for PSV of Holland where he was known as a lazy player who didn't put out for he didn't run much. As Romario came to Barcelona,the first thing Cruyff stated too Romario "You run too much". Cruyff stated, 'I got you here to score goals for me, not  to run around, so stay and hang around the penalty area and wait for the ball" 

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, April 25, 2018 at 12:48 p.m.

    Frank, I appreciate your feedback. Cruyff disliked running, but he played and moved fast. Perhaps my attribution of the short movements to Futsal (besides borrowing the ideal from someone else) is because I learned that concept from playing indoor soccer and small sided games. What I saw in Barca Tiki Taka looked to me like the movements when playing in small spaces. What I saw in Ajax total soccer was players interchanging positions not only within lines but also between lines. The close spacing between the lines limited the distance of the runs. I saw Barca as an extension of Dutch style where players were less mobile, with less interchange, and the ball supplying almost all the mobility.  

    The general principle I take away is that the less mobile the players, the greater the technical demand. There is simply more room for error when players are moving farther from their markers. I am not detracting from the technical ability of the Ajax players when making the comparison. They were great on the ball and I suspect generally had better athletic skills than the Barca players. 

    The thing is though, if you have quicker-faster-fitter players, you want longer movements to exploit the advantages off the ball. Not just 1v1 matchups on the ball. Different opponents, different game plans. Having said that though, those quicker-faster-fitter players will still need excellent technical ability in tighter spaces to beat opponents that way too.

    I may be too supportive of physical mismatches, but, if there is anything I know, it is how to dominate a flank by using physical advantages to leave opponents winded in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

  20. R2 Dad replied, April 25, 2018 at 1:37 p.m.

    Bob, I think you mean faster-fitter. Quickness doesn't come in a 6'-0" package for men, those quicker are historically 5'-4" to 5'-9". US Soccer has refused to value these smaller/quicker players despite the fact that all the greats were smaller in stature (OK, NIC Cryuff but look at Pele, Maradonna, Messi, Salah et al). 'We're Muricans, we will just grow a 6'-0" Messi !" seems to be the attitude.

  21. frank schoon replied, April 25, 2018 at 1:43 p.m.

    Bob,<"Dutch style where players were less mobile, with less interchange, and the ball supplying almost all the mobility. "> Mobile , only when you have to, run or sprint only when you have to, but  when you have to run more then 20yards several times , then there is something wrong, unless you're on the midfield line along with their defenders. Yes, the less you run the more technique is involved, the less energy, and less physical fighting. That is why Barelona had the midfield it did with Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets. That follows that Cruyff prefers to work with players  who have good technical skills for therefore you're able to raise the level of play and sophistication and follow a higher level of tactics that comes with having technical players. The whole idea is to have ball control ,keeping it away from the opponents no matter how fast or big they are, and play smart and make sure the opponents  are always a step behind. 
    This Tiki Taka stuff is starting to lead its own life, just like the term Total Soccer, in which people believed that all the players can play different positions, which is totally not the case. It is was a style of game that was thought by Cruyff and Michels but not what thought it was as totoal soccer. In an autobiography by Johnny Rep, the right wing for Ajax  and Dutch '74 as well as Van Hanegem stated that "Total Soccer' is a misnomer and have no idea how that came about. NEXT POST

  22. frank schoon replied, April 25, 2018 at 2:12 p.m.

    Bob,<"The thing is though, if you have quicker-faster-fitter players, you want longer movements to exploit the advantages off the ball."> To counter that is not to give them space to make those longer movements. That is done in different ways . For example the space you're talking about will be in my half which means my team will always outnumber you there. That means I will always have an extra man to deny the space from a long pass or cover that space while my other man covers your fast man.
    Next , I make sure I will cover the player who tends to make the long passes thus making it more difficult to make a good pass. Through positioning off the ball in the opens space and the coverage of the passer can make things difficult.
    The other aspect with fast players of which you say they have to be also technical is very difficult. One, the law of physics makes it difficult, for the faster you run the less skills can be employed and two players who are good in large spaces are not good in small spaces , you can't be both, thats' a golden in soccer.
    Tiki taka has nothing to do with small spaces or short passes but the continuous correct positioning off the ball to allow ball to move around fast. That is improvemd by being able to be technically good with both foot, employ the third man off the ball moving, and pass to correct foot as depended on the situation.
    You had mentioned the close spacing between the lines and positions , that is true. Cruyff wanted about 9 meters between the players, and the space between the backline and frontline is no more than 20meters. In this manner any ball loss can quickly be taken care off for there is hardly any space nor time to take advantage by the opponent....

  23. Bob Ashpole replied, April 25, 2018 at 2:16 p.m.

    R2 Dad, you are wrong about quickness only coming in short packages. Quickness comes from explosive power and having short legs helps. Short legs doesn't necessarily mean short height. It's a body type. 

  24. frank schoon replied, April 25, 2018 at 2:28 p.m.

    Bob, R2 Don't forget if it was all speed and quickness ,running that is, East Germany would have been the greates. Guys can imagine if East Germany was still around,what a threat it would be to our Women's team...hmmmmm...

  25. Ben Myers, April 24, 2018 at 12:55 p.m.

    Two late comments:

    Gerstmyer is 100% on target with "But goal creating is a whole other ball of wax."  That is exactly where American soccer in general comes up very short.  There is not enough emphasis at the youth level, or high school or college on build up, patterns of attack, delivery of balls into the penalty area, finishing and execution of set pieces.  Until our many soccer training programs give these areas appropriate treatment, our players will continue to come up short in the attack. 

    This past fall, I worked ONE session with a high school team on corners and other set pieces, succeeded im motivating them to work on these areas, even after team practices.  Result: 100+ goals, about 1/3 from set pieces, and a state championship.  It does not take much to get results with smart and skilled players. Once they buy into a concept, they take ownership and work together to excel. 

    This past weekend underscores once again why it is absolutely necessary to build a USMNT with an ample contingent of eligible Americans trained to play in other countries, until we can fix our problems here with player development.  Klinsmann was ripped apart for loading up on European-trained players.  Arena relied on way more MLS players and it got us on the outside looking in.  Don Garber and the MLS owners do not give a damn about developing players for the USMNT, only about putting fannies in seats, TV revenues and merch.  Gulati had his head in the sand (to be nice) about USMNT player development and the rest of USSF seemed to have followed their leader.  Maybe the new USSF leadership can be more enlightened about the importance of player development for the USMNT?  One can hope.

  26. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 3:24 p.m.

    BEN, < There is not enough emphasis at the youth level, or high school or college on build up, patterns of attack, delivery of balls into the penalty area, finishing and execution of set pieces."> Yeah ,that helps but those exercises and patterns of play does not create, the Bergkamps, the Henris, the van Bastens, the Messis, the Ronaldos , the van Nistlerooys, the Cruyffs, the Gullits,the van Persies, the Zlatans. These types of players are creators who create out of nothing goals and the like, out unusual situations. This is what we miss in US soccer, guys that  can create out nothing chances and goals which make for exciting games. What you're suggest is fine and can help but it is all programmed stuff easy to teach and practice and yes, perhaps we need to work on that is well, no argument there, but the creative players are not made by programmed exercises, I wish it was that simple

  27. beautiful game, April 24, 2018 at 1:04 p.m.

    IMHO, the biggest problem in soccer development is the coach-player relationship. It is most important how coaches see talent and how coaches have a desire to hone it. I would speculate thart 80% of coaches are concerned about the "wins" and nothing further. That's a huge majority in coaching that contributes to the poor development process. I've witnessed grass roots coaching in France which allows every opportunity for player development in training sessions and competitive games. The talk among coaches and parents after a game was about the performance of players, not the result.

  28. Peter Martini, April 24, 2018 at 1:16 p.m.

    Only 32% of ALL players in the EPL are home grown. Does this point to a poor soccer culture in England?

  29. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 2:50 p.m.

    YES, I have always considered English soccer a joke. If weren't for all the foreign players the soccer there wouldn't be watching. As matter of one of the problems of US soccer is that it owns so much their development due to the English influence.

  30. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 3:07 p.m.

    Peter , can you imagine if American soccer was mostly influenced by Holland and Brazil ,Argentina, and Yugoslavia in the past 50 years, instead of the England and Germany. It is due to latter two that we have produced so many stiffs in soccer

  31. R2 Dad replied, April 24, 2018 at 4:47 p.m.

    To be fair, England U teams have gotten much better recently. Those young players don't get many minutes in the premier league, but young internationals like Pulisic, Sancho and Weah are showing the best path for young players is not through England.

  32. frank schoon replied, April 24, 2018 at 5:06 p.m.

    R2, I will never send my players to England. They've had 2 great players, Bobby Charlton and Stanley Matthews. The English have never been known for developing youth. Yeah they gotten better recently...what's that mean? after inventing the game and playing over a hundred years and now they are getting better ...that says enough

  33. Kevin Sims, April 24, 2018 at 3:15 p.m.

    My college teammate Gerst is spot on. 

  34. Kevin Leahy, April 24, 2018 at 3:38 p.m.

    What we are talking about is non Americans holding more playing spots. IMHO it’s in the MLS owners best interest for the long term to have stronger American players. The fans need someone home grown to identify with for one. A stronger national team feeds the popularity as well. Coaches are always reluctant to take chances when their future depends on wins.

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