Welcome to Pitch Points, wherein I share some links and give some opinions. Many of them are about Nashville SC. This is also the outlet through which I give broader-view coverage. As always, if you find something you think would be an interesting addition to one of these posts, never hesitate to drop me a line.
College soccer reform is nigh. Longtime followers (Hi, Scotty!) will know this has long been a pet issue for me, but it seems as though some significant reform to college soccer is finally upon us.
In April, the NCAA will vote on a proposal by Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski to change Division I men’s soccer from a three-month fall season to a campaign spanning both semesters of the academic year, beginning in 2022. The number of games would drop from 25 to 23, the fall half-season would end at Thanksgiving, and the national championship tournament would move to the spring.
It’s not a done deal, given that there’s still a vote to occur, but it has the support of some of the key power players (including ACC and Big Ten programs).
It’s also still just one step in the right direction: the concept of a national championship tournament ending in early June still prevents players from participating in non-scholastic (NPSL or PDL teams) to a meaningful degree, and there’s still plenty of developmental work that can’t be accomplished in the constraints of the NCAA system.”
“Just one step in the right direction” is obviously better than no steps in the right direction, of course. It’s clear that the Name, Image, and Likeness legislation that’s working through several states’ lawmaking bodies is going to be a more important change (especially inasmuch as it ends the NCAA – a transparently evil body – as we know it). The next few years should be fascinating to watch.
The season approacheth. The Tennessean‘s Drake Hills asked a couple high-profile MLSers for advice to give Nashville as the club enters its expansion year. Darlington Nagbe:
“I would just say be patient,” Nagbe said. “I think everyone always wants the final product right away, but I think the plans and everything that they have set up for the new franchise is going to be amazing.”
Also from MLS’s media event, a little fluff on NSC. Hany Mukhtar, despite all German stereotypes to the contrary, is not a country-music lover. Speaking of whom, don’t forget to read my MLSSoccer.com feature on the Designated Player In Gold.
Business update. The Nashville Ledger got a pretty good set of updates (as part of a more general “sports in Nashville” piece, scroll down to the second heading) about Nashville SC.
Meanwhile, [Convention & Visitors Corp. CEO Butch] Spyridon says Nashville has a legitimate shot to host a FIFA World Cup match in 2026 when the prestigious tournament will be played in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Nashville is one of 17 cities under consideration to host games in the U.S. All those cities will be visited by U.S. Soccer officials this year and 10 or 11 sites will be announced in 2021.
“I think if we talk about the trajectory, we hope that the next big opportunity is the World Cup,” Spyridon says. “If we could be selected as a host city, one of the 11 U.S. cities; we’re one of 17 right now, but, you know, hosting an event like the NFL Draft and then being recognized by the Sports Business Journal (as 2019’s best sports city) makes a statement that we don’t have to say, ‘We play like a bigger city.’
I think there’s been little mystery that a potential World Cup game is behind NSC’s decision to build its soccer-specific stadium as large – over 30,000 seats – as planned.
They call him dad. Now it’s literal. Dax McCarty’s wife Jen gives a glimpse into what life is like as the spouse of a professional athlete.
More importantly, Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl on the CBA negotiations with Dax himself.
“The league is actually very strategic about how they want to do things,” he continued. “But us as a players association, we obviously have to look out for our brothers in arms and everyone together. Because, sure, you have the high-priced DPs and even the TAM players, who are incredibly important to building stadiums and to building that momentum in the support in the stands. But you also have the young homegrown kids, and you have guys coming from college who have also proven that under the right circumstances they can be very successful in this league, too. And so I think just opening up the total pot and money to the entire player pool is very important for us.”
To me: “agreed!”
Hispanohablante. Futbol en la Piel, hosted by friend of the blog Claudio Villalobos, sits down (actually stands!) with Randall Leal, Daniel Ríos, and Brayan Beckeles en español:
Mini-fluff on Randall Leal from his home country (it’s essentially just noting his existence and Nashville’s existence if you’re not a Spanish-speaker). Soccer America ($) notes the youth of the Costa Rica squad set to face the USMNT next month.
Loves to fish; name is a fish. A Wycombe Wanderers-oriented (for those not familiar, Wycombe currently competes in England’s League One, the third division in the country and soon to be joined therein by our beloved West Ham) podcast interview with Nashville SC wingers coach Steve Guppy. It’s a lengthy show, but the Guppy portion starts at 19:30.
His coaching philosophy is touched on deep into the interview, and to be honest, highly encouraging for NSC fans.
Etc.: Ian Ayre says nice things about Jurgen Klopp. … Area coaches and programs honored at the United Soccer Coaches convention in Baltimore. … Friends of the Blog Last Word on Soccer looking for a Nashville SC writer. Hit them up if you’re interested. … Transfermarkt speaks with Jesse Marsch.
Dax McCarty photo only tangentially related. Tim Sullivan/For Club and Country