While the system and philosophy of soccer in the US as a whole must change, if we had a top-shelf coach we would take a huge stride.
If someone like Marcelo Bielsa (I know he’s off the table) took over …
The Current National Team Pools Would be Decimated
Maybe 2 or 3 guys from the current NT would survive, and if given control over the youth NTs (ie his coaches/staff), the current pool of preferred players there wouldn’t survive either.
He would clean house. Why? Because the players in these pools are mindless automatons. Sorry. They’re just not good.
People say Bob Bradley did the best he could with what he had.
I say he did the best he could with what he selected.
Sure “the system” with all it’s “already identified national level players” was what he worked with. But the true talent is not in those “identified pools”. Those pools are wrong. They do not identify the *best. And it’s a mistake to think so.
It’s also a mistake for our head coach not to spread his tentacles much much further.
What Players Would be Selected Then?
So the criticism I always receive through emails or article comments is:
“Ok Gary, who are the best then? You never disclose names on what players are better. Why? Because there aren’t any and you’re full of shit!”
I understand that sentiment, and I know exactly where you stand. These are statements I just can’t respond to (not to your satisfaction anyway). You want me to shoot off names? You would have no idea who these guys are. If I had said Michael Hoyos or Funes Mori a couple years ago, you would say: “Who? What are you talking about?” Let me tell you there are hundreds of players of that caliber and higher in the States. They never see the light of day because players with *global-standard-like attributes are usually on the bench, rarely play, or not utilized properly in MLS, college, or even youth club. They are not picked when ripening on the vine. Instead they end up rotting and wasted.
How do I know?
Well because I’ve seen it first hand weekly, year after year, at the youth and college level. From 14 – 18, we have junk selected for our NTs. It is unbelievable how bad it is. And if you are not in these early pools, consider your future inclusion almost impossible. That would change with NT coaches with a clue. They wouldn’t care about pedigree – what team, club, league, or college you play for. They will get a player that has never played club and in a Santa Ana Mexican Sunday league team if he has quality.
In college there’s more junk being selected. And of course we know how D1 is incorrectly seen as all that matters. So more talent residing in lower tier colleges are toast. I’ll go further, if your D1 school is not a traditional NCAA power or doesn’t rack up wins in conference and tournament, you’re likely toast as well. If you don’t have “the stats”, you’re toast.
A top-notch NT coach could care less where you play or how many “points” you have. Come to think of it, he may very well focus less on D1 schools where academic requirements have filtered out most of the better players. I’m willing to bet the Junior Colleges have diamonds. If you have quality, you’re in.
Of course there are massive logistical issues in scouting. But I’m telling you quality far greater than what we currently have would be identified and selected.
Everyone would be shocked if someone like Bielsa came. He will find the talent. He would have no problem debuting an 18 year old from the academy or from a Sunday league on the Senior Team. No U18 or U20 team, the Senior Team. (Moises Orozco would be one of them). Our NT would have complete “no names” on it. But “no names” with true quality.
The Larger Scale Effects
And those “no names”, that would otherwise ended up a Starbucks barista, would then have MLS contracts. The level of MLS would then rise.
And this effects “the system” and its philosophy. It tells everyone what a global standard model is. For the first time it correctly tells everyone in this country what a quality player looks like, and hence what they should look for and try to produce.
Furthermore, by playing great soccer and performing better than his predecessors, a Bielsa also shows everyone how they should play and that we do have the talent and capacity to be great.
Another added effect is that his selections will be purchased by top teams in Europe and actually play. This opens further doors into the virgin US market.
Having the right man and his staff at the senior and youth NTs would work wonders.
We all know the whole system and structure needs to change. But I contend it will commence along the right path and much quicker if we have the right coaches and staff for our national teams.
Thoughts? Opinions? Criticisms? Your comments either way are always welcome.