Pitch Points fights the man, man

Steve Gans on his troll game… who will be his competitors for USSF president? 

Evaluating the USMNT over time. “The men’s national team is as bad as it’s been since ’86.” Just about everybody has stated this (with missing the World Cup as the key piece of evidence), but is it true? How about some empirical analysis:

In the 2010’s, the USMNT officially shed its veneer of invincibility against CONCACAF opponents. In a decade where the US faced no CONMEBOL teams in the Gold Cup, the USMNT performed its worse with its lowest winning percentage despite not facing any nations from South America who are more challenging than their CONCACAF counterparts. Additionally, the US struggled mightily with Panama, losing twice and tying twice, and lost to Jamaica.

There’s a lot more there, and a lot of it is numbers-y – for better or worse (I like numbers-y).

I would like to see a similar analysis regarding qualifying games, rather than just competitive tournaments, since obviously qualifying is the stage at which the USMNT failed this cycle. I asked in the comments, and it sounds like there’s not a clear enough trend to make for an interesting post, unfortunately.

I may take a numerical dive at some point in the future, as well. Obviously “loses to Trinidad and Tobago” feels like new ground, but is it?

Trouble in paradise. And by “paradise,” I mean “whatever the opposite of paradise is.” US Soccer presidential candidate Steve Gans sent a strongly-worded letter to USSF, complaining about mid-stream changes in the election process, moving goalposts, etc., with a strong implication that it’s rigged for Carter/Cordeiro establishment candidates (meanwhile, everybody with a public opinion has said change is necessary, but is that opinion held by those in the voting blocs?).

The allegations, if true (US Soccer replied and saying that they’re, at the very least, not done with any nefarious intent – and Gans seemed to accept that there’s a pathway to the sides coming together) are the sort of thing that basically every candidate who comes from outside of the current USSF/SUM structure wants to eliminate. Simplifying and increasing the transparency of the federation is not an end to itself, but would certainly go a long way toward helping achieve actually footballing goals.

Gans has been one of the quiet candidates – as has been basically everybody outside of Wynalda/Martino/the guy who it’s literally impossible to take seriously – until the past few days, and it’ll be interesting to see whose campaign tactics go to another level when the pool becomes official sometime soon (the deadline for nominations was last night).

Communist football. Literally. I’m a sucker for a long read, and this story about North Korea’s national soccer team is pretty fascinating:

A short drive from the May Day Stadium, at the Kang Pan Sok Middle School (named after Kim Il Sung’s mother), Kim Jong Un’s plan is being put into action. A large sand football pitch is filled with over a hundred teenagers. One large group in school uniform is dancing together in large circles. A few hundred army cadets are dressed in brown uniforms with berets and marching in formation. The musicians who make up the school’s brass band are sitting on the school steps, waiting for practice.

A very long read indeed, and more about North Korea through the lens of soccer than about soccer itself. Still rather interesting.

Also, Soony Saad is a blast from the past for this Michigan soccer fan.

MLS Expansion Draft. LAFC had its expansion draft yesterday, selecting five players and dealing two of them, and while they didn’t pick up five guys at the same position and then trade them off, they certainly didn’t go into the process only looking to pick players they wanted to use.

This, of course, may be relevant should Nashville pick up an MLS expansion slot in the near future (like, single-digit days away). Is an expansion draft the right way to do things? There are compelling arguments that it is not:

When expansion teams have found value in the Expansion Draft, it’s usually been through the trade market. Atlanta and Minnesota were both active in that regard last year.

There’s value in those deals, but I suspect it’d be preferable for expansion teams to just take extra allocation money instead of having to participate in an Expansion Draft. In the draft, they’re picking from other clubs’ castoffs. At best, they’ll nab a part-time starter. At worst, they’ll select a player that doesn’t even make the opening day roster.

Certainly it seems there are easier ways to deal with adding expansion teams’ talent (LA is following that draft-and-trade methodology, as well). Personally, I think the concept of a draft – while sort of ingrained in the fabric of American pro sports – doesn’t really work that well in soccer anyway. I think allowing players to compete to sign talent on an open market (with no draft) would be a bigger step forward for the top level of pro soccer in our country, and the resulting improvement in clubs’ investment in being a destination would improve multiple levels below, as well. That’s a far bigger deal to me in improving soccer in our country than pro/rel (a topic I’ve discussed plenty in the past and don’t need to touch on at this point). (Yes, I deleted a couple paragraphs about it in editing this post, why do you ask).

Etc. Long FIFA interview with Lionel Messi. Argentina will be my team at the 2018 World Cup, mostly because I’d hate to see him never win a major title for his country… David Beckham’s MLS bid in disarray. Time to give Sacramento, Nashville, and Cincinnati the next expansion slots, and make Miami wait for the following wave… Former MNT player/youth coach Hugo Perez on improving the style of play in US Soccer.

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