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Pitch Points like, totally owns Liga MX

As always, don’t forget to follow on Twitter, and you can always drop me links of interest there or in the comments here.

Campeones Cup

Liga MX probably rethinking this one. The top leagues in the United States (and Canada) and Mexico are strengthening their relationship with a champions cup to be played in September. I’m always down for intracontinental club competition, particularly against the only nation whose clubs are consistently better than ours.

The all-star game idea is still fun, but a little less so (it’s a pure exhibition all the way, so whatever). I’d rather see what the NBA did (still does?) with young players v. old or something of that nature (or homegrowns versus other young players, or…) that is exhibition-oriented, but also development-oriented.

Probably bad timing given the level of success MLS sides are having in CCL, though. (I’m being facetious there, of course – I would be pleasantly surprised if one or both of Toronto and New York advanced to the Final over América and Chivas, respectively).

Hurriedly rolls eyes at Save the Fairgrounds guy (and other local activities!). If you’re interested in community events surrounding the future MLS stadium (certainly the disingenuous Save the Fairgrounds and #MMLSSTMC people – who are the same people, and have a agenda well outside the one they’re public portraying – will be there), you can participate this Tuesday.

Early April brings Open Training Week from United Soccer Coaches. Belmont will host a men’s session, MTSU a women’s session (also a couple others outside the Middle Tennessee area). In my “get involved” movement, this is a great opportunity for any coaches to continue learning more about the game.

This town may be Big Enough – for all of us. Dissecting the arrival of two teams in one Southern city. This is presumably something thats going to remain relevant to our interests, and to various cities in our region, as well.

Greenville, we do not have to choose. We should not have to choose. I get it. I truly do. Some of us have built genuine relationships with people associated with one team or the other. There are people involved that I truly consider friends. But this is not about one or the other. We are so lucky.

I don’t try to harp on this too much, but how about another indication that our country isn’t remotely ready for Pro-Rel? If a city can’t support two soccer teams in separate leagues (frankly, I’m surprised ad pleased that a place like Greenville has enough to support one), how are supposed to follow a model that essentially requires multiple teams from – at the very least – the same region to co-exist at separate levels, and even reach the same one?

USMNT downshift. It’s been all-NSC lately with the season approaching (and now here), but how about a little US Soccer talk? Here’s Tab Ramos’s 20-man group for the U-20 side’s trip to Spain.

GOALKEEPERS (3): CJ Dos Santos (S.L. Benfica; Philadelphia, Pa.), Phillip Ejimadu (Nacional Atlético Clube; Minneapolis, Minn.), Brady Scott (FC Köln; Petaluma, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (8): Sergino Dest (AFC Ajax; Almere-Stad, Netherlands), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union; Bear, Del.), Jake Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Manny Perez (N.C. State University; Garner, N.C.), Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union; Drexel Hill, Pa.), Sam Rogers (Seattle Sounds FC; Seattle, Wash.), Aedan Stanley (St. Louis FC; Columbia, Ill.), Angel Uribe (Club Tijuana; San Diego, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Frankie Amaya (Pateadores; Santa Ana, Calif.), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Chris Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.), Andres Jimenez (Envigado FC; Miami, Fla.), Richie Ledezma (Real Salt Lake; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Alex Mendez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas; Highland Village, Texas), Juan Pablo Torres (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen; Lilbirn, Ga.)

FORWARDS (6): Shaft Brewer (Unattached; Sacramento, Calif.), Zyen Jones (FC Schalke 04; Clarkston, Ga.), Ulysses Llanez Jr. (LA Galaxy; Lynwood, Calif.), Nebiyou Perry (FC Köln; New York, N.Y.), Justin Rennicks (Indiana University; Hamilton, Mass.), Josh Sargent (SV Werder Bremen; O’Fallon, Mo.)

There are big names there (Sargent, Carleton, et al), but also some names that I didn’t previously know a whole lot about. Will be interesting to see the games against France (two of ’em) and Atletico Madrid.

The senior national team for upcoming friendlies will be announced today, and while it should be a young squad, obviously some of the U-20 choices limit those guys’ opportunities to be integrated into the side.


Some USSF stuff. Since his election, I’ve gone back and listened to/read/consumed everything I could that Carlos Cordeiro said about his platform for becoming head of USSF, and I’m much less down on him than I was previously. His podcast with Grant Wahl would be a good place to start – mentions the importance of increasing the coaching base (yes!), some governance red tape introduction/removal, and more. I don’t necessarily think many will like him, but the level of dismay that he won the election should decrease.

I also know this plan was in the works before his election, but it was such a transparently stupid scope of the position at the time, and – surprise! – the narrow scope has turned away basically every candidate so far. The USMNT/WNT general managers should be in charge of the MNT/WNT programs, not just teams. A third grader could have told you this. How did US Soccer not realize it?

While we’re on a tangentially-related topic and don’t have any other section to slide this in: Regular readers know my love for the US Open Cup. It’s getting closer, and the stakes are getting higher:

For the first time since 2013, USSF has upped the prize money. The champion will now get $300,000, the runner-up will get $100,000, and the team that advances the furthest from each division will get $25,000 (up from $250k, $60k, and $15k, respectively).

Anything that can be done to make this tournament more important in our soccer culture is cool with me (he said, begrudgingly thanking FC Cincinnati for giving some buzz to last year’s tournament). Both Nashville-based sides in prominent leagues will participate.

Always talkin’ development. For two reasons (it will apply to NSC in due time, and because it impacts the USMNT), this is a pet topic of the blog. I’m glad to see NYRB getting the credit they deserve for an outstanding academy program and integration of their USL side.

I think in the long-term, there’s going to have to be some sort of split between MLS B-teams in USL and other USL teams writ large (i.e. keep the B-teams out of the playoffs, continue preventing them from participating in USOC, have them concentrate on playing each other rather than a wide-ranging USL slate) simply because the purpose is different: they’re supposed to be developing players while non-O&O USL sides are supposed to be winning soccer games.

How have we not figured out that the answer to “should a young guy leave for Europe or leave for MLS?” depends on the situation? That goes not just to media talking about it, but the federation itself, which should have an advisory committee helping young players make the decision.

I’m not against the DA’s rule (that they’re denying in this story even though it’s official policy? Lying never backfires) that kids can’t play for both a development academy side and their high school – but for it to be a just rule, there has to be legitimate opportunity to get scouted by the federation outside of the DA mechanism, and with it slowly choking the life out of the ODP and USSF ignoring other showcase events, the DA has become basically required unless you’re so good that you can develop into a world-class player without it.

This is the area of youth development where Cordeiro needs to focus the federation toward sensible policies. “Pay to play” can’t be ended by policy (USSF can’t tell private programs or clubs what to charge outside the DA system that they have jurisdiction over), but without multiple paths to the next level(s), it’s going to reign supreme. Encouraging and scouting the multiple paths reduces the importance of the pay-to-play model.

Etc.: Think the situation is bad and the rhetoric is toxic in the United States? We got nothing on Australia. … Always down for a little tactical talk. … Phoenix Rising’s new stadium plans sound awesome. Two points: NSC will be designing a stadium soon, and also how does a city of Phoenix’s size/demographics not have an MLS team yet? …

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