The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Why the USMNT Won’t Get Any Better Without A Pro/rel System

Why the USMNT Won’t Get Any Better Without A Pro/rel System

BY Grayson Barnette


Currently ranked 32nd in the December 3, 2015 FIFA World Football rankings, the United States Men’s National Soccer team has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through all of the wins and losses, the players and the coaches, one thing has remained the same- the lack of player development in the United States.

Have you noticed that many of Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s recent call-ups were born in Germany, Mexico, Ireland and other countries? In fact, 10 players called up within the last year were born in a country outside of the United States. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge supporter of calling up the best players possible. You should be too, after all, if Messi’s parents were born in the United States, you would want him to play for you, too. But, the fact remains, where are all of the young American players?

The question always comes up amongst soccer fans, why doesn’t the United States have the ability to produce great youth talent?

Well, there is no simple answer to that question. Some people argue it’s because players have no true path to the pros, and I agree. College soccer seems to be a waste of time for many players, after all, the MLS draft isn’t really a big deal. Often times those players get traded around more than they get to play. Jordan Morris is the only current college soccer player that gets first team appearances, anyway. Is he wasting his time with college soccer? If you ignore the educational aspect, the clear answer is yes. Morris is 21 years old, if we compare him to 22-year-old Paul Pogba, who plays for Juventus and the France national team, their stat comparison wouldn’t be close. Morris has 7 appearances for country as Pogba has 27. Not to mention the millions of dollars Pogba is making, while Morris can’t even use his own likeness to make money.

The true way to produce great talent is through professional training at a young age. This is what separates a Morris from a Pogba, so to speak. Natural talent is one thing, but having the chance to play against the top players in your age group growing up is another. As they say, competition breeds improvement.

What does this have to do with promotion/relegation?

The pressure a club feels whenever they are at the bottom of a table is astounding. The fans, the players, the ownership, even the league puts pressure on a club. This pressure forces a team to either lose revenue by relegating to a lower division, or to develop better players and gain promotion or a title.

Premier League (England), Ligue 1 (France), La Liga BBVA (Spain) and Bundesliga (Germany) are the top leagues in the world, but what do all of these leagues have in common?

They all have a multi-league promotion/relegation system in place that provides strong support and pressure for clubs.

US Soccer needs to have a system in place that rewards second division teams like the Carolina Railhawks and New York Cosmos, both in the North American Soccer League which is considered to be the second division in the closed-US Soccer pyramid. Why should a team have to vouch for a MLS bid that will never come, to play in the top division of American soccer?

Promotion/relegation would also mean more investment and promotion for US Soccer, after all, more openings in leagues means more teams available to join. A strong third tier of American soccer would lead to a stronger second tier and an elite first tier. All filled with USMNT prospects for coach Klinsmann and staff to choose from.

One of the main arguments against promotion/relegation is that the current ownership of the MLS and its clubs have put millions into developing the league and therefore don’t like the possibility of being relegated which would, in turn, cause revenue loss. To that, I respond, wouldn’t a stronger first division lead to more foreign and domestic interest in a competitive and exciting league that is Major League Soccer?


[Photo: Ryan Rosenblatt / Getty Images]



Follow Grayson Barnette on Twitter @GraysonCHT for updates on all things sports and entertainment keep reading The Cold Hard Truth: On Truth.

Why the USMNT Won’t Get Any Better Without A Pro/rel System
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Why the USMNT Won’t Get Any Better Without A Pro/rel System

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