Saturday, January 21, 2012

Major League Challenges, USSF

Eric Wynalda's comments NSCAA Convention last week are exactly what needed to be said and to exactly the right people. Part of that convention was shown on Fox Soccer and I enjoyed what I saw. Lots of food for thought there, but I hadn't seen nor read all of Wynalda's comments until yesterday.

Chunks of his long speech (along with his Q and A) have made their way my direction and I just sort of passed them off as Eric being Eric. However, I feel differently after reading the whole transcript.

During it, Wynalda literally and deliberately makes a much needed leg breaking tackle on Major League Soccer.

His talk is meaty, but what struck me was that after Wynalda finished his lengthy talk (or standing proudly over the player, MLS and its snapped leg), he took questions. I thought to myself; 'could Eric defend his stance to a crowd of knowledgeable coaches from all levels of soccer in this country?'

He never stepped back or side ways from any of them. Directly pointing his sharp blade at Major League Soccer. In fact it was so scathing that eventually MLS Director of Communications Will Kuhns jumped in, unable to control himself any longer as Eric ripped about his league.

After loyally, yet fleetingly trying to stick up for his bosses (namely MLS Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez) Kuhns tries to challenge Wynalda intellectually:

Kuhns: But you don’t have any facts, that’s the problem. There’s no facts.

Wynalda: I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Both of them go back and forth about transfer fees going to the league and not MLS clubs. Wynalda states: "100% of zero is zero".

Kuhns tries and fails to explain that one away because the money does go to the league. Only after that does the league distribute the money in how they see fit and not directly back to the team that sold the player.

Defeated on his limp attempt to engage Eric on the mechanics of the league, Kuhns goes into a sweeping soliloquy about our country having an "inferiority complex" and that "there’s a culture of self-loathing in our country."

It backfires.

Wynalda: Wait a second, stop, what country are we talking about? This is the United States of America.

Kuhns: Right!

Wynalda: I’m not scared of anybody, and if you’re scared of an inferiority complex, if that’s something you want to actually bring this into the conversation, you’ve just become the problem. This is the United States of fucking America.

What I find interesting is that much of the discussion at the convention was on grassroots work, youth clubs, the college game and Major League soccer. They talked about each as individual entities. It sort of irked me.

Off and on over the past couple weeks I've spent some time with a giant spreadsheet that contains every team I can find currently operation in the United States (pro, semi or developmental). Right now I'm working through the so called 4th level of the USSF soccer pyramid. What I'm wanting to do is to figure out a way to get all of these leagues working together in a meaningful way.

It's definitively a challenging endeavor but I really think that pulling it all together is achievable sooner rather than later.

It can be done! And it will be a huge step in making us more competitive soccer nation and not just a place where other countries buy 'John Wayne' away only to fill the corporate pockets of MLS executives. We have to people and resources to be much, much more than that.

After all... This IS the United States of fucking America.

You can find the full transcript from Eric Wynalda's talk at the coaches convention on the National Soccer Wire website.

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