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Considering MLS contributions to the U.S. World Cup effort

Mar 29, 2013, 1:35 PM EDT

Herculez Gomez of the U.S. speaks to the media before attending a national soccer team practice session at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico

Every soccer snob in our land who enjoys blistering Major League Soccer quality, those who dog-pile on every opportunity to drag the league through some disparaging mud and gleefully point out its deficiencies, needs to go buy a clue.

(Considering the bargain MLS prices relative to other major U.S. sports, you can probably pick up a good deal on one!)

If you are a soccer patriot, if you enjoy watching your country participate reliably in every World Cup, you really need to take a moment to wrap your arms around Major League Soccer’s contributions to the larger effort.

Of 16 Americans who helped the United States collect four ginormous points over the past eight days, getting the U.S. steam engine rolling with force toward Brazil 2014, all 16 started their pro soccer careers in Major League Soccer. (Herculez Gomez, pictured, was one of them.)

Would a few of them have made their way overseas without MLS as a launching pad? Sure.

But only the ninniest of soccer ninnies out there believe all these guys would be as far along in skill and know-how without MLS as a quality training ground.

Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes talks about it here. Vermes, remember, was on that 1990 World Cup team, a bunch of college kids who barely knew their Real Madrids from their Romas and their Readings. So much has changed. For the better. And MLS is the flesh and bones and blood of it all.

That just needs to be said from time to time.

  1. tylerbetts - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I count 17 total players used in the two games (14 in the Costa Rica game, plus Shea, Besler, and Davis who didn’t play against Costa Rica, but played against Mexico).

    Jermaine Jones is the only one among those 17 without MLS ties (though, he’s using MLS as a negotiating ploy and pretending he might have future ties to the league …).

    Did we forget about Jones with the 16 Americans line?

    • Steve Davis - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:09 PM

      Yep … I stand corrected. When I counted, I started with US-Mexico … thus omitting Jones. Thanks for helping with the accounting, never a journo’s strong point!

      • tylerbetts - Mar 29, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        The point still stands. Heck of an accomplishment for the league.

        And that’s before you consider the impact it has on the rest of CONCACAF and how raising the bar for those teams makes the US better as a result. Costa Rica started another 2 MLS men in Denver, and had an MLS man as an unused sub on their bench. Especially now that CONCACAF nations, like Honduras, know they can use MLS as a stepping stone towards European leagues, including EPL.

  2. nygiantstones - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Couldn’t agree more on this post. In my opinion, the MLS will be the biggest factor in an improved US National team in this World Cup cycle and the subsequent cycles. Bigger than any one Manager’s influence or any National team governing body’s influence. MLS will only get better as more and more Central and South Americans are attracted to the quality of life in the US, and that will improve the league for everyone, including the Americans raising their skill levels.

  3. mkbryant3 - Mar 29, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    This soccer patriot salutes this best of soccer sites.

    Journalism like this only helps our burgeoning league.

    Still can’t believe I turned down an opportunity to see that 4th of July match in 94.

  4. bigdinla - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    I don’t think anyone doubts that there are very good players in the MLS, but the level of match play is still pretty poor. I have mom problem separating the players from the league. Talent rises from the JAGs and MLS is a nice launching board.

  5. dfstell - Mar 29, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Of course, MLS is a huge boon to our national team. Is there a single useful national team in the world that doesn’t have some sort of professional league? MLS is already better than many of the leagues around the world and while I doubt it’ll ever reach the heights of the biggest European leagues, it will become more and more important as a way to develop talent. Especially as the academies become more established. The real key is to get our athletes into a professional environment at a younger age. Only in the US is a 22 year old considered “young”.

    • mvktr2 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      ^Exactly! As soon as the U20 & U23 development is fully/effectively addressed by the league the development system will be fully in place. The USL Pro/MLS partnership is a good start. In 6-12 years we’ll finally see what MLS is really going to mean to US Soccer.

  6. charliej11 - Mar 29, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Ssssh, Steve, don’t pick on the morons, they still think they are the only ones that get soccer.

  7. jhalion - Mar 29, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    To piggyback off tylerbetts point, the Jamaican National team has 4 regular players that ply their trade in MLS. This fact, along with MLS having strong ties with the Honduras and Panama squads, shows how influential our league has had in creating the crazy hex we are all witnessing. The teams in Concacaf are much better and will only improve as time goes on.

    • joeyt360 - Mar 30, 2013 at 10:49 AM

      Yeah, I was gonna say that too. MLS hasn’t just made the USMNT stronger, it’s made the Panamanian, Honduran, Jamaican etc teams stronger too. (Anyone think Roger Espinoza makes it to England if MLS doesn’t exist?) It’s raised the level of CONCACAF as a whole.

  8. jdfsquared - Mar 30, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Here are my priorities as a North American soccer fan:

    1) USMNT

    2) MLS

    3) BPL

    Too bad the Canadian Eurosnobs over at Fox Soccer News couldn’t care less about North American soccer. All we get is Euro Euro Euro for 57 minutes, then some timid, underproduced MLS coverage that doesn’t amount to much more than a blurb.

    It’s such a shame that the ONE soccer news show we have in this country does such a deplorable job of actually covering our game.

    • valiantdraws - Mar 30, 2013 at 4:23 AM

      Who cares about Fox? I certainly haven’t in years, and now that NBC Sports has picked up the MLS flag, I’m pretty excited.

      BTW, Taylor Twellman has been getting pretty good as a color man over at ESPN, I must say.

    • corgster - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      Our tundra-studio soccer show is heading towards the dustbin of history. Fox Soccer is being replaced by FXX. Think FX channel 2.

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