Klinsmann: Think of US soccer as elite

1/3/14 in Soccer   |   w_g_walters   |   223 respect

Jurgen KlinsmannUSNMT coach Jergen Klinsmann has come out and said that the US needs to start thinking of its soccer as elite. On the other hand, he also said we won't get there before 2020.

Is this a contradiction? No. Klinsmann is trying to foster a positive approach toward the game, and this could be the year to do it, especially if the US advances out of the worst World Cup draw in its history.

Add that MLS is expanding to 24 teams by that year while the NASL and USL Pro are adding nine teams by 2015, along with smaller towns claiming championships for well-advertised teams, and you have a formula for popularity and growth, and talented players who may otherwise have never touched a soccer ball. And don't forget how DC pulled off a miracle championship in the US Open Cup despite setting the record for fewest wins in a single MLS season (3).  The Astros would be proud.

But there will always be problems. Soccer is looked down on as "unamerican", especially with the popularity of American football. The officiating in the lower leagues is better than in MLS, and CONCACAF is worse. Just look at the "stretcher series" between the Houston Dynamo and Arabe Unido this past year, in which even Bobby Boswell posted a picture of a stretcher and labeled it, "The Man of the Match" after the first game, while AAU's strategy worked in the rematch, putting them in the quarterfinals with no corrective action taken by the referee. Americans tend to be fair weather fans. Add to that attacks by "opinion makers" during the 2010 World Cup, and you have a recipe full of negativity.

So I ask: What will it take for the US to actually reach the point where it is as strong as in other countries?
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1/3/14   |   w_g_walters   |   223 respect

I wish promotion/relegation could work here, but the US is too focused on teams who actually win. Fighting to avoid relegation makes play better, and develops talent as they face tougher opponents in tougher leagues. The problem is that Americans want to see American superstars like Donovan or Dempsey, all the time, and the idea that his team could get booted to a lower division is unthinkable.

Internationally, we may be the highest rated country outside Europe and South America, but most Americans don't even know there are ratings. There's still a lot that has to be learned, here.

1/3/14   |   OneStepBeyond   |   36 respect

If we want to grow our talent Stateside, we need to tweek our league. A system similar to what you see in Europe, levels that clubs are relagated and promoted within. Merge with the NASL and USL in order to fill out the lower leagues with the promise of possible promotion. This means scrapping the two leagues in MLS and the playoff system.  

Even so. Soccer in the United States has grown at in incrediable rate. I believe we are nearly there already. Other nations do no overlook fixtures against the USMNT like they used to.