USL is getting really messy. Brian at Inside Minnesota Soccer has a fantastic rundown on what is going on. The basic gist is that former USL sides are breaking away and seeking to create their own league. This has left the USL with just a few teams but they remain the league recognized and sanctioned by US soccer and FIFA. As Brian points out Sunil Gulati really needs to come in and help straighten this out. His silence is damning and is really harmful to the growth of the game in this country. A country as large as ours needs a solid and viable second division. Get off your ass Sunil.
MLS expansion news. Montreal looks set to be the 19th team and David Beckham appears serious about being part of the ownership group of the 20th team. Montreal was pretty obvious for sometime now. It creates an instant rivalry with Toronto and provides a solid and enthusiastic fan base. There will be a lot of speculation over the 20th team. If Beckham is involved one has to think it will be in a major city, probably either New York or Miami. Goff speculates that there is no ownership group in Miami. That’s true but in a few years and with Beckham I would think that would change. A team in Queens would be great but the league absolutely has to have a presence in the south.
MLS contract talks starting to heat up. The MLS players union tried to go all global on the ownership and got the involvement of the FIFPro – the international body that represents the players. But Sepp Blatter has laid the smackdown back saying FIFA won’t be involved. MLS does some shady things vis-à-vis the players, beyond simply not paying them all that well. Grant Wahl explains.
US exports soccer talent. The Culture of Soccer makes a great point: we now export soccer players. Giuseppe Rossi, Vedad Ibisevic, Nevan Subotic, and Arturo Alvarez all developed their skills in the United States but chose to play elsewhere. We have come a long way from the David Regis era of the 90s. Just imagine if Rossi, Ibisevic or Subotic picked the Nats.
The next great US soccer town. Bobby Brandon has a great post at MLS talk on some smaller US cities that are really taking to the game – he mentions Des Moines, Omaha, and Chattanoga to name a few. I would also think minor league soccer would do well in Hartford, Providence, and especially Portland Maine. You could have a pretty intense New England rivalry. Developing the lower tiers is crucial to the growth of the game.
Some belated thoughts on the US youth world cups – it was a mixed bag but no reason for depression. I think US fans should be disappointed by the U-20 squad. The team was missing Altidore, but overall it looked pretty poor and there were few obvious future studs. Sadly no one really impressed, which was in stark contrast to the 2007 team that featured Michael Bradley, Altidore, Adu, Robbie Rogers, and others. It looked like the team really suffered from the loss of the MLS reserve team. But I think the disappointment that the U-17 team didn’t get past Italy is really off-base. At that level it really isn’t about results, but how the team looked. Italy looked like the better team, but the US had a lot of promising players all over the pitch, especially in Luis Gil, Jack McKineriny, and wide player. Gil looks like he could become that real #10 that we have been so thoroughly lacking.
Pitch Invasion runs through the top 20 US stadiums. No surprise who wins, even though there hasn’t been a game there yet.
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