The problem with US Soccer is not that we lack extremely talented players; we have them! There are loads of players with world class potential here. I see it every week at the youth level, and sometimes college.
The problem is we have ignorance and incompetence occupying the coaching and management positions at the higher levels.
The latest example is an 18 year-old player named Funes Mori who played with the U-18 FC Dallas academy team. Originally from Argentina, his family immigrated to the States when he was 10. In 2008, he won the “Sueno MLS” competition held in Dallas – a high profile MLS youth combine of sorts. Diaro Ole, a highly regarded publication in Argentina, reported the young player stating:
“MLS was supposed to make me a professional contract, but that never happened.”
So instead of landing back with the youth team, he packed up, jumped on a plane, and went to trial for River Plate in Argentina.
River, one of the greatest clubs in the world, debuted him on the first team this December! Last Wednesday, he started and played 83 minutes against Boca Juniors in what is one of the greatest “classicos” in world soccer. The stadium is always packed with hostile fans and the entire footballing globe tunes in to watch. What pressure for an inexperienced teenager who barely debuted several games ago …
He ended up scoring the game winner.
You see the difference? In Argentina they don’t mess around. First off, they know what talent is. Second, if you’ve got it, they throw you on the field. They don’t care if you’re a scrawny 18 year old that came from America or any other factors. No stupid bull shit or excuses! If you have it, you play; end of story!
How could US Soccer let a talent like this go? Simple. We are inundated with completely clueless morons who don’t know jack shit about the sport we love.
If Funes Mori is an exception, it’s only because he left the country instead of having his talent go to waste here. There are tons of Funes Mori’s in the US (many better), who go unrecognized as he did. They either stop playing competitively after club because there’s no option for them afterwards, or end up rotting in some college soccer program – again unrecognized.
But what makes this story most remarkable, is that Mori was not an unknown like these other players I describe. The “decision makers” – the guys who could make something happen and make him an MLS pro – knew about him and watched him play. There’s no excuse!