A soccer diary from across the pond

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Cleetus case and why MLS must sometimes sell big names

Whenever a talented MLS player is transfered to a European league, there is always someone who starts complaining, that MLS will never become a top tier league, if they sell their biggest players.

This idea is partially true, but mostly wrong.

MLS of today is a developmental league. Some people might oppose to that, but the way soccer has developed it is really only La Liga, the Premier League and perhaps the Bundesliga, that cannot be described that way. Most of the best players in Ligue 1, Serie A, the Eredivisie leave for bigger and better leagues and I'm sure thats company MLS and its fans wouldn't mind being a part of.

The thing about players is that most of them are ambitious people. They want to be the best and play with the best, and when you as a club want to sign a player you need to convince them that along of an acceptable salary you can help them achieve that goal. MLS is a good league yes, but there are plenty of leagues, where the quality is higher and the salary is better. Consequently, what MLS must do to attract talent, is tell the players that what it can offer them, is a good league to develop in and when the right offer comes from a foreign club, they won't stand in the way (Unlike the Clint Mathis to Bayern M√ľnchen situation). If MLS and its clubs has a reputation of standing in the way of the players getting to bigger clubs, it will become harder for them to attract the talented players, both foreign and domestic, and this will have a negative impact on the league.

Obviously MLS shouldn't sell any asset at a discount rate, and big efforts should be made at convincing players to stay, but as we saw with Clint Mathis, there are also big downsides to forcing a player to stay, that saw a chance to move on.

Post script:
A more contemporary example: If Fredy Montero decides that he wants to go to a top European league and a club fields a good offer, MLS should accept it. Yes, MLS would lose a top player, but they would earn a good buck and it would send the signal to young South Americans like Montero that MLS is a good, stable league to develop in, in order to get recruited by a top European team and being that stepping stone will help MLS increase its quality as more talented players go there to be spotted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Soccer Newsday column: Women's soccer and MLS

My weekly column on Soccer Newsday got moved to Wednesday, but go give it a read.

Sporting KC and why soccer is more than an immigrant sport

So I have these friends from Edmonton, Alberta, and when I told them about my interest in North American soccer, they rejected any interest any interest in soccer in North America outside of groups of recent immigrants and their kids.

I've heard this many times and in different versions and I've never been able to fit it to my impression of North American soccer fandom.

That is why the outburst of passion that we have witnessed around Sporting Kansas City. This isn't New York or Chicago. This isn't a multicultural metropolis that attracts people from all the world every day. This is heartland America. And they love soccer.

Surveys show that soccer, not MLS, but soccer in general has surpassed hockey in popularity in the US, and what we see in KC is that it is not just because of recent immigration, but a general embrace of soccer by Americans.

It is however also clear, that it is not enough, just offering soccer. You new to have a strategy that shows the local community that the organization is a passionate part of it and that it is committed to creating a winning team.

Americans are soccer fans, but what it takes for American soccer to capitalize on that is a commitment to the community and the fan experience.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Something about Hoilett, myself and this site

Guess what? People actually read this blog. Some guy (Mike Firpo) even thought that what I write here has quality enough for me to write for his site: www.soccernewsday.com.

Today I had my first piece about David Hoilett, which I think all of you guys should read.

I'm really honoured to have the opportunity to write for what will hopefully be a bigger audience and that Mike has faith in my writing abilities. I hope to repay that faith.

It does however also have an impact on this site. Everything Canada will now be on my Soccer Newsday column and as such this site will get a more American flavour. Though everytime I write a column I'll post a link for it here.

Again. Thank you Mike. Really.