LA Freelancers Take on Euro-Myth

Like some friends call to coordinate outfits, it seems that the LA Soccer News/Sideline Views crew did some coordinating to take on the debate as to whether Major League Soccer (MLS) somehow stunts a player's development. Luis Bueno's contribution comes in the form of a formal column, while Andrea Canales posted hers on the blog they share, Sideline Views. Bueno's deals more directly with the MLS-to-Europe comparison using U.S. Men's National Team players as example, while Canales assails the faulty logic that Europe is always and automatically better using Landon Donovan.

The point of both pieces, to lump them together a bit unfairly, boils down to a statement that MLS is developing players; perhaps not as quickly as we'd all like, but it's doing a job, if not the job. Having gone a little ways down the opposite road - especially where Donovan is concerned - I have to confess they make a decent case; though where Canales is concerned, I tend to be dubious about applying strict logic to real life equations. Still, I think she finds the essential hole in the argument, much like Bueno's numbers capably make his case.

But the killer line closes Canales post:

"If Europe is so wonderful for developing players, why hasn't a U.S. player in Europe come along better than Donovan?"

One rejoinder comes to me right away - e.g., these are relatively new trends we're discussing and the general inability of Americans not named Brian McBride or Claudio Reyna, and those not playing 'keeper, to become real forces in the European top-flight speaks to a weakness in the U.S. game/system that keeps these players from becoming regulars on European clubs....gasp...sorry out of breath - but that doesn't really take away from the basic point.

MLS isn't doing that badly for a twelve-year-old league. We aren't world-beaters, but we're also no longer pushovers on the world scene. This whole thing will take time no matter where our guys play and, if they're not getting playing time, it's not like Americans are going to improve in Europe just by, say, drinking the water and breathing the air. Even as I see some truth in my long digression above, even that will take time. Long story short, you can't rush these things...seriously, you physically can't, not because it's not wise, but because it simply can't be done. The reality is, we're learning. And MLS isn't a horrible classroom.


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