Pitch Points is renamed Lebo Golazo

Cranking out a Pitch Points before this afternoon’s Cincinnati content, because some of this stuff will be a little stale once we’re focused on FCC.

More like Lebo Golazo, am I right folks? Bad pun and a GIF:

Lebo Moloto Nashville SC Orlando City SC golazo gif clubandcountry.wordpress.com

Meanwhile, that guy’s team is 75/1 to win a USL title. Anybody trying to pool some betting money (kidding! I’m way too scared of losing money to bet on sports).

Justin Meram. This article came out within a couple hours of the last Pitch Points I published, which is unfortunate because it’s great. Former Michigan Wolverine and lifelong American Justin Meram on choosing to represent the country of his parents’ birth, Iraq:

It was the first time I could sing that anthem surrounded by the fans who live and breathe for the national team. And I didn’t just see one Iraqi flag as I had during my club games, I saw dozens and dozens, as well as scarves decked out in our colors of red, black and white. As I sang, I could hear thousands of others singing with pride and passion.

Our team is nicknamed the Lions of Mesopotamia, and as we stood on that field in Basra, I felt like one for the first time.

This is important in various contexts, not least of which is understanding the thought processes of eligible dual-national players. Obviously this comes into play when it comes to conversations about Jonathan Gonzalez (which, like, let it go, folks. I’ve just started catching up on the Max and Herc podcast and it might be literally the only topic they ever talk about. It’s over, move on) and other dual-nationals lost.

When he retires from MLS – Meram was traded from Columbus Crew to Orlando City this season, and has a few years left in him – I would see huge value in including Meram on a US Soccer Federation dual-national committee (that I’ve previously proposed) both as a recruiting tool for those players, but also helping folks understand the thought process and the decisions of those who choose not to play for USMNT/WNT.

Joint World Cup bid in jeopardy. And you’ll never guess why. The world we live in: the US Soccer Federation has to say “don’t worry, this moron will be six years out of office by the time the 2026 World Cup takes place” to take the United States out of “we are North Korea”-level international reputation. FIFA – FIFA! – sees the president of the United States as too corrupt (or just generally detestable) to allow our nation to host a sporting event. Verily, America has been Made Great Again.

Meanwhile, talented young kids using soccer to go to college on scholarship are getting deported for… reasons. …and we’ll end the potentially political conversation there. Let’s just say it’s understandable why basically every country outside of the Western Hemisphere (and likely many within it) won’t bat an eyelash about doing anything they can to vote against the United States.

Development: a play in multiple acts. The US Soccer Federation has built a national training center. It’s been in the works for a hot min, but now completed. Will be a good tool in developing coaches… probably shouldn’t be super-relevant in (direct) player development on the grand scheme.

Speaking of which, read this from The Ringer on Christian Pulisic’s initial move to Germany. As I’ve stated in the past, there’s not a problem with players developing in USL/MLS just like there’s not a problem with their heading to Europe (duh on the latter point). Saying one or the other is the only reasonable path is how we get into situations like missing the World Cup. More options is better.

How about developing franchises? Depending on how it comes off, Chattanooga FC’s summit next weekend could be a pretty positive step in growing the game in terms of club opportunities. Yes, I’m well aware of the bad blood between supporters groups from Chattanooga and Nashville, but… there’s a lot to be said for Chattanooga appearing to do everything the right way as a community club.

US Soccer General Manager. US Soccer CEO Dan Flynn met with media earlier this week. The topic? The new National Team GM positions (one for men, a separate one for the women). His vision… is bad.

According to Flynn, the GM will be responsible for “hiring and firing senior team head coaches,” building “an integrated national team staff,” managing the “day-to-day environment” of the senior team, monitoring the player pool and integrating new players. The GMs will report directly to Flynn and not to newly elected US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.

Somebody whose core function is to hire and fire a coach is not what the national teams need – maybe it’s what Carlos Cordeiro needs to take some of the pressure off his extremely high-stress job of being USSF President.

What USSF needs is a GM for each national team program, not just team. Some of the tasks – e.g. “monitoring the player pool” – are more program-oriented than individual team-oriented, but things like that should be the most important duties, not the single hire of a national team coach (and presumably assisting him or her with the evaluation and hiring of assistants and support staff). Recruiting dual-nationals, helping make sure youth players get into good club/development situations, etc. …these should not be

Having GMs is a big step forward. This vision for what the GM role entails is at least a similarly-sized step back.

The GMs will be part of a larger technical structure focusing on those senior teams—“a brain trust,” Flynn called it—and won’t be directing all of U.S. Soccer’s on-field initiatives.

“In an indirect way, those general managers will have input on what we’re doing on the player development side,” Flynn said.

That certainly doesn’t inspire confidence. Nor does USSF’s recent track record.

Etc.: Are you a talented female player over 17? Try out to play WPSL this Summer. Nashville Rhythm tryouts that were previously rained out have been re-scheduled for this weekend. … Some MLS storylines, including #MLS2Nashville. … Want to learn a ton about every MLS team? You’re in luck. … I’m down with Ranting Soccer Dad‘s National B-team idea.

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