Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another viewpoint

I must strongly disagree with you concerning
American college soccer. American college players have
formed the backbone of Major League Soccer. Players
such as Brian McBride, Taylor Twellman, Michael
Parkhurst, Clint Dempsey; the list is endless; have
provided the foundation of MLS. Simply put, American
colleges have provided an absolute bounty of talent to
MLS. This year is no different as many college players
have made MLS rosters. Unfortunately, MLS committed
the crime of letting MLS teams add one more foreigner
to each MLS team roster. This has reduced the
opportunity for rookies to contribute immediately.
Remember, MLS was formed to develope the American
player, not to showcase foreigners. If I want to watch
foreigners, I can watch the world's best foreigners
on Fox Soccer Channel or Goltv. I follow MLS in order
to watch American talent being developed. MLS simply
can not afford to develop enough talent on its own.
The country is simply too big for the cash strapped
MLS to fund the development of America's young soccer
talent. MLS must rely on America's colleges for the
bulk of its talent. And American college soccer is up
to the challenge. By the way, the substitutions in
college soccer that you condemn actually promote the
development of larger numbers of players who are
blooded by playing in college games. Remember, soccer
development is a numbers game. The more players who
play, the more prospects will emerge. An example of
the kind of the depth of talent provided to MLS by
the colleges is Michael Gavin of LA Galaxy. Gavin was
drafted in the first round of the 2008 Supplemental
Draft. He showed tremendous potential in playing left
back through the preseason for the Galaxy.
Unfortunately, the Galaxy lost their first game badly,
and, even though Gavin did not play badly in that
first game, he has been benched since then in an
apparent act of scapegoating by Ruud Gullit. Gavin has
been picked by the US U23 team for an upcoming
tournament in Europe. I think Gavin has tremendous
potential, but he must be played. Gullit should bench
Greg Vanney and Xavier and go with Troy Roberts, Sean
Franklin, other collegians, and Gavin in defense. As I
said, the colleges have provided MLS with tremendous
depth of talent. It was very unfair of you to pick out
three mistakes by rookies, this year, and attack
college soccer. Also, the colleges play the power game
which is ascendent in world soccer. A year or so ago,
I watched a Fox Soccer Channel documentary on
Brazilian soccer. During the documentary, the head of
a Brazilian soccer academy explained that they no
longer look for technical players, but instead look
for speed and strength. In other words, they look for
players who play a power game. The days of Brazil and
other teams playing a slow, technical game are over.
The colleges play a power game which prepares college
players for the power game. The US has dominated
Mexico by playing a power game. The power game
emphasizing speed, strength and size is the future of


Anonymous said...

NCAA COMMUNICATIONS responds, i guess.

Anonymous said...

Brazil no longer looking for technical players. I would be clinically depressed, except that the traditional speed and power leagues (based in the UK, which has not one representative in Euro 2008) are buying technical players like mad, and English club players are improving from that influence. Hopefully the market will force the trend back to winning with grace and style. Hopefully.

FC Uptown said...

Unlimited substitutions is still ridiculous in the college game. No doubt college soccer has formed the backbone of MLS and USMNT - but it's clear the technical skill level of American players needs to go up, along with the level of coaching.

I like this post though, this guy is smart.

Anonymous said...

Brazil players like Robinho, Ronaldinho, Diego, Wagner Love, Anderson, I could go on and on, are all about power. This is a ridiculous email...NCAA does a horrible job creating players. McBride and Dempsey are your best examples, and they play for a lower tiered team in the EPL, who are good players, but not anywhere near the top...

Anonymous said...

the college game needs to align the rules to how the pros play, get rid to the gimmicky rules like backward counting clocks defining an end of a game unlimited Subs, timeouts and three halves. Players of the futture arent going to just be strong fast and athletic, they are going to need to be that plus have the technical abilty to make a pass acurately, which seems to be an issue when MLS teams full of COllege players playinternational tourneys or friendlies unless the so calle dinferior technical players. Players like Messi and C.Ronaldo and KAKA come to mind as players of the future it needs to be technical and physical not just one.

Nathanhj said...


Sure past MLS teams were stocked with college players and they made immediate contributions as rookies. Because MLS largely had no other options.

Collegians still have a great shot at MLS spots. Even with the expansion of the foreign player slots, the overall addition of teams to the league creates more places.

The point of the article, however, is that NCAA soccer is now hampering the development of players not amplifying it.

If the author of this e-mail thinks that Michael Gavin is an upgrade at left back over Vanney AND Jazic, then I'm 100% grateful s/he is NOT coaching the G's. The same with Troy Roberts and Xavier, who were both on the field last night and who both looked awful.

More useful examples would be Michael Parkhurst and Michael Harrington.

But I don't know how many times I have to sit through Alan Gordon's Touch of Horror or Troy Roberts' Positioning of Calamity or Brandon McDonald's Distribution of Averageness to know that skill and tactical development of US Players cannon rest on the NCAA if the nation wants to get out of futboling mediocrity.

Brant said...

yeah - that was total "press release" by someone who clearly hasn't watched enough NCAA soccer.

Bottom line: The Columbus Crew, who needed all the help they could get, turned to Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers (2 noted non-collegians) ahead of Hermann Trophy winner Jason Garey.

Tell me again how college players are the backbone of the MLS?

jamesey said...

I'd rather play with 10 men than play with Troy Roberts on the field.

Anonymous said...

So basically the author's rests on the fact that MLS got a lot of its players from college and that Michael Gavin sure is swell.

I agree that the country is too big for MLS to develop talent on its own, but that doesn't address the real issue, which is the NCAA's deficiency in developing talent. In the past, MLS has drawn all its American talent from the NCAA simply because there was no alternative source of American talent. Slowly that's changing and that's a good thing given the NCAA's limitations.

That's not to say the NCAA doesn't have a purpose going forward. While the elite talent should be placed in the top academies run in a more professional environment (MLS academies, Bradenton, etc), the NCAA is a good place to try to catch the late-bloomers and the guys who fell through the cracks -- especially because the more marginal talent will likely need to make use of that college degree.

Citing Michael Gavin's U-23 callup is pure fallacy. This is a B-/C+ team whose MLS contingent consists entirely of U23 eligibles who are not needed by their teams. MLS clubs have no obligation to release players, so his presence is just a sign of his status in Gullit's eyes.

And somehow, I think those Brazilian academies might be teaching a little tactical awareness along with the power/speed game. Which the NCAA doesn't.

Matthew Zimmerman said...

Which sad little college soccer outpost did that e-mail come from?

Former four-year college soccer players provide great depth for MLS teams. Their contributions to the reserve teams are undeniable.

The college game contributes nothing to our national team. Nothing. It is useless in the grand scheme of soccer in the United States.

Anonymous said...

The writer of that e-mail is heavily overstating the ascension of the "power game" in world soccer. Simply citing a documentary they saw on Brazilian soccer academies. Also from what I understand Brazilian academies have recently focused on developing bigger and faster defenders and forwards, but still look to develop technical midfielders.

Also if you look at the World Cup the teams that still dominate that tournament or technical sides. In fact the only team in recent memory that I can think of that had any success at the World Cup level playing the "power game" has been Germany.

Tony M said...

Yes, MLS is stocked with college players. Once the MLS youth development teams begin to produce properly trained players, that will no longer be the case. They will still be there, but in small numbers.

papa bear said...

@anon May 14, 2008 7:43 PM
even calling Germany a 'power game' team is a bit much. They are far more technical than England or other long ball to death teams. I guess it just seems like more of a 'power' game since everyone on the team is 6 ft 5 and the little guys kinda fly off em :)

This e-mail is retarded. Sorry. I am sure the e-mail address was '

The college game is a joke. If he wants to toss out McBride and Dempsey as examples of the greatness of the college game I'd like to submit Altidore, Adu & Landon Donovan. All three are considered the best this country has produces and/or the ones with the highest potential and not a single one played a lick of college ball.

NCAA is a joke. Play by FIFA rules and we can talk. They can keep having teams for late bloomers or those who are super hard up for a degree to fill out the reserve squads but I'd like to put all the eggs into the MLS and USSF academies.

Anonymous said...

I think the NCAA has the potential to be a great source for MLS in the future. First the NCAA needs to change to normal rules. There are a few young players talented enough to skip college and play in MLS but the majority need time to develop. I beleive as more former players get into coaching that the college game will improve. Look at the NFL and NBA the NCAA is a huge free farm league for these sports.

drew_brown said...

I think people are interpreting "power game wrong". I don't think the emailer meant the offensive strategy, rather the type of players used.

C-Ron, Ibrahamovic, Henry, Messi...are extremely good ('powerful') athletes that have transformed the way the game is played. I would even say offensively it started with George Weah and then Ronalod. Guys who are so strong and fast, yet divinely gifted in their touch. Defenders like Thuram, Terry and even starting with Desailly are massive power players. This is the power game the emailer is speaking of.

While it's great to note that the world is heading this way and that the college game has many of these athletic specimens, the emailer closes both eyes tight when driving by the skill department. We need so much more confidence on the ball in our game that dropping the kids off at the athletic development camp is not going to improve the game in this country.

There are some valid points, but the glaring omissions in the response seem to negate them.

Anonymous said...

Catamount said...

Points from the email that I think are well taken:
1) Colleges can develop far more players at a higher level and any other entity in the world.
2) Colleges allow more players to play because of the liberal substitution rules. (Lower levels also have this so it is really a question about what age is the right age to stop it.)
3) Powerful athletic players have become the rage in many professional leagues.

Glaring omissions:
1) Italy didn't win the world cup with power.
2) Power teams play very fast, which requires exquisite technical skill at pace and speed of thought (both criticisms of College by Gullit).
3)Colleges are guilty of recruiting foreign players. UCSB's recent championship team had an entire back line from New Zealand.

Points not made:
1) No other country has this asset, so we need to figure out how to use it.
2) Players entering college come largely from club teams, who play the kind of soccer Gullit dislikes so much.
3) The vast majority of American players who are successful in foreign leagues like the EPL, played college soccer for at least a year.
4) No other approach has proven to be better if you simply count the number of players in MLS and their contributions. The numbers of non-collegiate American players that make an impact in MLS on the whole is minimal when compared to former college players.

Beax Speax said...

Get your facts straight. UCSB did not have 'an entire backline of players from New Zealand'. The 2004 NCAA finalist had one defender and one forward from NZ. The 2006 championship team had players from Canada, Ireland and England. More like a 'handful' of foreign players.

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