Welcome to Pitch Points: rounding up links of interest in Nashville, US Soccer, and other topics of interest. Don’t forget to follow the site on Twitter and Facebook, where you can always drop links to share in one of these posts.
Development. This one snuck through (as in “I had a tab for it open and totally forgot to include it”) last week’s links post, but it’s très intéressant. New England Revolution is basically starting solidarity payments unilaterally.
Recognizing the important role alliance clubs play in nurturing young talent, the Revolution Academy is investing back in the soccer communities that develop Homegrown Players for the Revolution’s first team and has established a scholarship program for Academy Alliance Partners. The scholarship will be awarded when a partner club’s former player signs a first team contract with the Revolution and is intended to recognize the role the alliance clubs provide in developing players who join the New England Revolution Academy.
I’ve made it very clear that solidarity payments are an important part of reducing the importance of pay-to-play in our country (truly original idea, that), and while it’ll never completely go away – as long as there are folks willing to pay to get their kids another bit of coaching, onto another club team, etc., there will be pay-to-play mechanisms – allowing a wider range of players (in terms of SES primarily, but geography, ethnicity, and other delineating factors, as well) will naturally improve things.
That’s one of multiple initiatives mentioned in that release, which also includes free ID clinics conducted by the club. The more development pathways, the better.
There’s some form of great exodus from Girls’ DA to ECNL, which… I don’t really know how to read too much into it: I haven’t paid enough attention to the conflict to know the motivations, the differences between the two (my understanding had been that ECNL existed instead of Girls’ DA, then the federation launched a competitor to what had been a partner), etc. Just something to pay a bit of attention to, I guess.
That’s always a good time to focus on the core product of youth sports in general (H/T Beau Dure on Twitter).
#MLS2Cincy? Plenty of developments in the Queen City’s push for an MLS team in the past week-plus. FCC got approval for its preferred West End location for its stadium. MLS owners met about it, didn’t say anything specific about their opinions. Local media in Cincinnati is waiting with bated breath nonetheless.
The MLS website did a straight news story about the stadium developments, but the official statement was entirely unenlightening. I’m still expecting that we’re in a “dot i’s cross t’s” situation nonetheless.
(I’m still absolutely dumbfounded that the Detroit papers – one of which I used to freelance for, in the interest of full disclosure – are absolutely clueless about the fact that the Gilbert/Gores decision to make Ford Field their site absolutely ended any chance of their bid being chosen. You can’t hurt chances that already stand at zero).
Tactical talk. I’m always interested in a little bit of work on the chalkboard (as you all know). Here’s an interesting one: Atlanta United has made basically the opposite shift in philosophy that Nashville SC has, and both changes have spurred decent runs of form for their respective teams.
As we all know by now, Tata Martino shifted Atlanta United’s shape after a dismal start to the season in Houston, moving from his usual 4-2-3-1 to a 3-5-2. Yours truly and our own John Fuller covered the manager’s formation change last month. And the move sparked the team’s current five-match unbeaten run, seeing AU shift into a more direct, counter attacking side in recent weeks.
Without knowing too much about the way the games for Atlanta has played out – or, honestly, the strengths and weaknesses of their personnel outside of what I saw in First Tennessee Park two months ago – I couldn’t say if the opposite directions (with similar results in the table) are a matter of the competition played, individual fit, or what. I do know that it’s a little tidbit of interest.
It’s also an indication that there’s more than one way to skin a cat: NSC has gone from a seemingly defensive 5-3-2 to the 4-4-2 and remained defensively stout while adding a little more attacking punch. Atlanta has gone in the opposite direction to shore up its defense while remaining a threat going forward. They obviously have the players (and wage outlay) to play a little differently than Nashville does.
Brazil’s first division getting going. The opening of this story takes a nice little (deserved – I’ve voiced some of my concerns with the book before) shot at Soccernomics, but the content of the story is interesting nonetheless: why Brazil doesn’t have a national league that sports globally competitive clubs.
There are multiple reasons, of course, some of them political, many of them economic, plenty of them related to talent acquisition (would you rather move to Brazil and get murdered or, like, Italy?). We shall see if corruption cleanup is enough to change the status quo in a major way.
Etc.: Idea: let’s not do the homophobia thing anymore. Cool. … American Soccer Now with the projected roster for the next USMNT friendlies. The list of scheduled games now includes England, by the way. … The ESPN+ launch has been interesting, to say the least, though Pravda has a different take on it. … The official Nashville SC site profiles Kosuke Kimura.