I was happy for the 16 year old when I heard the news. But as far as his development is concerned, not so much.
On the one hand, I did not want to see him continue as an amateur in the “Development” Academy with the occasional NT camps or games. So, it’s certainly a step up as far as improved, consistent, and challenging training. But …
As I’ve stated in several articles here, here, and here, I think he has the potential to be the best American to get through our system. Perhaps enough to become “world class” and play on a top European side. Now I fear that will no longer happen. In my opinion, MLS will ruin him just as it did Freddy Adu. Yes he will be good, play World Cups, make a European squad some day … but he’ll be just like our current NT guys – nothing truly special.
I wish he could’ve stayed either in the Arsenal farm, gone to a Spanish academy, or made the trip to Argentina like Funes Mori. That’s where his potential could have been nurtured. You see, Gil has the latino style of play in him – a smart, playmaking, creative, possession-oriented game. These are the qualities the US lacks and is incapable of developing. Instead it resorts to vertical play and a reliance on athleticism in hopes that something good will happen.
This is precisely the type of environment where a player like Gil can’t shine. That is, if he get’s playing time at all since these are not his strengths.
Admittedly, I probably only saw a dozen MLS matches last season. Enough to know what I assert above, but not enough to identify if there’s that one coach who has a clue and the inclination to adopt something different.
All in all I’m in wait and see mode, but no longer optimistic with the kid.
I agree with you. The Sounders are attempting to play a more intelligent brand of soccer but the league as stands won’t allow it. It is a thug/goon league and 80% of the officials hired by the USSF/MLS are incapable of controlling a match so that soccer can actually be played as it is supposed to be played, i.e. with skilled footwork and smart running off/on the ball. A player of his build will not last physically in this league and wont be able to out muscle other stronger players. Interesting when Barcelona played Seattle, the petite Messi showed how dominant a skilled smaller player can be.
p.s. As far as I know, Sigi was directed/instructed to play a positive, attacking, creative brand of soccer from the beginning of the franchise.
Gary Kleiban says
Hi Jose. Do you know who gave that mandate? I’d be interested if you had a link …
Dave Clark says
Ownership has stated that they wanted attacking soccer from day one.
I think Seattle is one of the best places he could end up… but it’s unfortunate because Seattle doesn’t really have anything to give up. I think Sigi is one of the few coaches that could help him become a better player and move on to Europe at some point (and do well not just mediocre). Where he is now will almost definitely turn him into another Freddy Adu. I like you have no faith in the Wizards coaching staff to develop him I hope he decides to be traded… but I hope that he ends up somewhere that can develop him unlike a majority of the teams in the teams in MLS
Gary Kleiban says
Thanks for that majora. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he get’s traded, and what he looks like on the field in the next 2 years.
I love how you bring up Adu. Nice.
Just avoid the many that have gone on to great Euro careers, which you seem to prize so much.
Or maybe, what is his name, oh yeah, Landon something or another. ( did you honestly think people wouldn’t think of him )
Was he ruined by MLS ?
It is good to have opinions, and you have to write your columns but stay unbiased in your arguements. Does your arguement look better when you ignore obvious contradictions or worse ? Worse.
Gary Kleiban says
Hi Charles. Thanks for your comment!
I think you need to look at the thesis of the article again. That is, the proposition of “world class”.
The US has never churned out a world class player. In that context, bringing up any American that is in Europe is just silly. The reason for highlighting Adu is the age similarity and the enormous potential. From 16 – 18, a player is still in the malleable formative years. Again the main reason for the comparison.
As for Landon, he did not enter the league at this age. It looks like he was at Leverkusen from 17 – 19. Interesting huh? In addition, he is a good player and is doing well overseas (finally), but he does not fit into any world class discussion.
How are Dempsey and Donovan not world class? Also, Quality in MLS is improving.
Gary Kleiban says
Well Justin, I guess I’ll have to write a series of articles attempting to give people something resembling objective criterion for “world class”.
For now, I’ll give you one subjective opinion and one objective fact.
First a simple, but still subjective definition:
World Class players are the global cream of the cream.
With that in mind alone, Dempsey and Donovan are not even in the discussion. Again subjectively, I can pick any player at random from the top leagues in the world and chances are they’re at the same level. That makes them average when compared to players in the best leagues (that’s quite good mind you). Now, to make or judge a statement such as this, one has to have watched quite a bit of footy. Hell, for the sake of argument, let’s say these two are better than your average top league player. That still doesn’t make them part of the cream of the cream.
Then there’s something a bit more objective: the market.
Who has been making offers to purchase these two from their clubs? Hmmm …
And how much are they offering? Again hmmm …
Plus if you are “world class”, it’s not just any team in the top leagues that are looking into your services, it’s the top teams in the top leagues that are interested.
Dempsey and Donovan are excellent players! They most definitely have quality. But World Class?
p.s. As far as MLS is concerned, player quality has improved, coaching quality has not. And it’s the latter that has most developmental impact.
Kieron Boyle says
I just happened to come across this article from 2015 you posted and guess what? Gil is an almost after thought in the MLS and even worse is barely a blip on that USMNT map. Another example of the MLS ruining US Soccer.