As a footballing country USA has a decent enough team to compete with nations from the
American continents. But they fail to match the level of European giants who have been
b dominating in the world of soccer. The MLS is still considered as the farmer’s league and
has failed to produce top quality players for the US national team.
The top ten most valuable football clubs are in Europe. Although the spending power is not
comparable to the European clubs there is no dearth of investment in the MLS. After all they
pay huge money to attract star players from Europe who have reached the later stages of
their career. But that investment isn’t being reflected in the quality of players which might be
one of the reasons why USA failed to qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup.
The paradoxical nature of Soccer in America
USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup last year revealed the true status of soccer in
America. There had been a false sense of security regarding their position in world soccer as
they had managed to feature in the WC finals on a consistent basis. They took their
CONCACAF opponents for granted and got punished for it.
A lot of criticism was thrown the US team’s way by the media and the fans. The team was
struggling to cope with the failure and their frustration was showing. This was particularly
true for the youngest US captain who led his team in the final qualification round against
Trinidad and Tobago. They lost the match 2-1 and Pulisic unable to carry the weight of
expectation could only weep in the showers.
Another side of American soccer is Christian Pulisic’s superstar status in European football,
confirmed recently after his transfer to Chelsea from Borrussia Dortmund. The 64mn Euros
Chelsea paid for him is the highest transfer fee for a US national. Several young and exciting
players have been rising on the European scene in recent years, Tyler Adams, Weston
McKennie and Timothy Weah to name just a few.
There is no hiding the fact that there are a lot of problems with the youth setup for soccer in
America. But is the current crop of talented players across Europe indicative of a change?
A False Dawn
The reason so many American soccer players are making heads turn in Europe is not
because there have been improvements in the American youth setup. It is exactly the
opposite of that. These players are doing well because they moved away from America.
Take Christian Pulisic for example, he went to Germany when he was fourteen and quickly
progressed. At just 20 years old he already has three years of first team soccer under his
belt. Had he stayed in America it is likely he might have gotten his first chance at 20.
The structure of the youth system at the grassroots level is to blame for America’s failure to
produce top players. Children have to pay ridiculous amount of money to join academies.
Unless a youth system modelled on the European one isn’t adopted the future will remain
bleak for the USA.