I’m a bit late to the U20 topic, but this is not a news outlet; it is an education outlet.
In case you’re not up to speed, we lost to Guatemala and were eliminated from the U20 World Cup for the first time in 8 cycles.
And as with most US Soccer failures, many across the web do further damage by drawing terrible conclusions.
In this case, the theme seemed to be: “meh, no big deal”?
[Pause … Deep breath … Sigh]
Ok, on to my thoughts …
Potential is Nothing. Fulfillment is Everything.
There’s no question in my mind that this US team had some individual quality, far greater than the last cycle. That’s good, and it says something about Rongen’s identification and selection efforts this time around. Hell, it may even indicate some improvements to our overall development infrastructure – but let’s not get carried away.
Guys like Kelyn Rowe, Amobi Okugo, Moises Orozco, and Sebastian Lleget are most notable. These guys have potential to turn into something.
Unfortunately, potential is useless if not realized.
And failure to qualify, is a lost opportunity for this potential to be identified, purchased, and nurtured the right way until it blossoms. But things go further than just this set of players.
This is what people are not understanding. Let’s look at the their points of contention:
“2011 is another story, the squad is made up of almost all professional players already and the one non-professional to start, UCLA’s Kelyn Rowe, has interest from clubs abroad and is projected to be a top pick in the next MLS Draft if he signs with the league. These U.S. players don’t need to be “discovered” like past Americans.”
Of course they need to be “discovered”!!!
Okugo who? Moises who? Do you think Europe knows who these guys are? Do you think scouts, agents, and 1st division coaches over there are salivating over these US Players? Perry Kitchen who?
People; we are not like Argentina where all of Europe knows and tracks every single U17 & U20 player.
Come on man, can you say: “WAKE UP CALL”!
The excerpt above also implies that the current situation of these U20 players is one that can take them to that next level. Specifically, the level we all want US Soccer to reach. So MLS is going to take them there? How about 2nd division clubs, reserve games, or riding the pine elsewhere?
Kelyn Rowe might get trials overseas, but trials are a very interesting thing. If you’re not already a “made man”, you are viewed differently: especially if you’re a non-EU player.
Enter the World Cup. Beyond the obvious exposure, this tournament makes the lens through which a player is viewed much better – especially if they shine. That could have “made” some of these guys.
Instead, Okugo & Orozco’s immediate door overseas, like many others, is now shut! Slammed in their face actually! The chance to fulfill their promise? Greatly diminished, if not gone forever. How is this inconsequential?
But let’s get something straight. This goes much further than the players on this team. This was a chance to showcase American talent in general. To further show the world that there’s a worthwhile pool of quality in the States that is not tapped. I’m talking beyond Rongen’s roster.
It’s The Pipeline, Stupid
Make no mistake, the pipeline from the US to Europe or South America is very thin. And this was an opportunity to further accelerate growth of that pipe.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THESE SPECIFIC PLAYERS!
And that, my friends, has implications to the future of US Soccer.
This leads me into another incorrect conclusion some are drawing. One that lacks history and context. They say:
“Players from several of the top teams in the world pass on youth international tournaments to focus on establishing themselves with clubs and it isn’t a detriment to their development.”
“The U.S. will now join Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and a host of other very good soccer countries that will not play in this summer’s World Cup.”
“Argentina and Portugal didn’t qualify for the previous one.”
What’s implied here is just straight up ridiculous. The US situation can not be compared to these nations!
These are established soccer powers with pro-player pipelines that lead straight to the greatest clubs in the world. These countries have credibility! When an agent, be it an individual representative or a club itself, tries to sell their product (whether a 16 year old or a 20 year old), people listen! It doesn’t matter that said country didn’t qualify to a youth World Cup, or that said player wasn’t on a U20 roster.
The US, on the other hand, is an outsider trying to get in. Our product doesn’t “fly off the shelves”!
And that hurts!
* The excerpts used are from an article The Shin Guardian posted a month ago, but looks to be replicated here: