Why Would American [MALE] Players Be Taken Seriously In Europe?

That is a fluffy piece meant to stroke the egos of Americans...”  Or so I wrote in response to Phil Schoen posting an article entitled, “Why aren’t American players taken seriously in Europe?” by ESPN’S and Men In Blazers’s Roger Bennett.    Actually much of this post is lifted from my response.

The piece’s contention is that basically anti-American bigotry is the reason for Americans’ poor performances with European clubs.  That is such silly, make everyone feel warm and cozy BS.  “They just do not like us, so they are mean to us,” whining is nonsense.  It is business and they want to make first money and win things helps in that.  If they could get an American that helped them, they would be all over it, especially with the marketing potential of the US.

Herculez Gomez, US and Liga MX’s Club Tijuana Striker, offers some very insightful comments on why top players are leaving Europe. Real life enters into decisions for players.. it is still just the day job, no matter how much they love playing it.  

It is parallel to my point on that players want to play in the UEFA Champions’ League (and all the bonuses that come with it) but if that is not an option, getting super paid is the next best thing.  I would never begrudge a player making the best living they can.  Their careers are too short to be altruistic.

Players making the best living is a red herring in this, however. It has nothing to do with anything but the admission if our players were better developed they wouldn’t have to make the choice between the best competition and the best paycheck.. they would go hand-in-hand.

He also makes the point, players can make it in other places besides Europe and MLS.  There are many American players in Liga MX, and almost every one of them is Mexican-American.  I can only think of Damarcus Beesley who is not. [Sorry – Forgot Jonathan Bornstein as well]

The reason American players are not coveted is that they are as technically skilled as their foreign counterparts.

The main technical deficiency is the brain. We are not raising players who have soccer brains. The closest we have is Bradley and he bounced around 6 leagues in 7 years or something like that then came home.  They do not see the game as a chess match, where you need to see the three plays ahead.  The core concept of passing the ball into space the attacker runs into is simply lost on most American players.

[NYRB GM Jerome] De Bontin reinforced his point with a depressing hypothetical. “If I took two identically skilled players in the same position, one from Chicago and one from Ivory Coast, I guarantee the African will get a spot and the American won’t, just because of the condescension of the European coach.” – From Bennett’s article

That example of the American kid and the Ivorian kid has little to do with condescension and more to do with American players’ lack of technical abilities… So we are clear, I LOVE American soccer and I would pick the Ivorian kid too. Most likely he grew up with a ball at his feet, playing without structure or bad coaching. He is just playing for the love of the game and thereby developing his understanding and skills his way in the rough and tumble chaos.

The game is still not organic to American kids in anywhere near the same way. American players are/have been developed in a rigid structural organization where they maybe had a good coach along the way with a lot of bad, probably changing coaches every year.

The entire US system is bad. AYSO to traveling teams tethered to nothing philosophically and with little consistency. There are no real academies which is fine because there are no standards in this rigid system and yet there is no freedom to develop creativity or flair.

AYSO conformists crush kids who have natural talent that does not fit their mold.   They seem to want to stamp out that which is different than they are used to or than their kid can do.  Look how long it took American fans/establishment to finally appreciate Dempsey’s talents.  Bruce Arena said, “he tries shit,” was Clint Dempsey’s biggest talent, but AYSO/Establishment poster child Donovan is still seen as the America’s gold boy.

There needs to be a full, overhaul of the US system that develops creative and technical skills along with soccer brains. It should be noted that US women don’t have these problems ironically.   

It also needs an economic overhaul.  Only in America, is it expensive to grow up playing soccer.  Kids with means play soccer in America: registration fees, uniform fees, equipment, traveling team costs, private coaches (usually bad), all cost money.  The rest of the world learns to play with a whatever they have and without rules.  That is why we are not exporting players that succeed at the highest levels.

If you doubt that article of ego stroking BS to make America feel better..  ask yourself why US Soccer is finding players from around the globe to cap instead of guys born and bread into the US system?

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When, “When in Rome,” Gets You to Levinworth… DON’T DO IT..

American citizen[s] or national[s] may be subject to prosecution Under 18 U.S.C. §2423(c)  Even if the person did not have the intent to engage in sex with a minor at the time he or she left the United States, such intent at the time of travel is not necessary. For example, an American citizen or national who travels to a foreign country without any such intent, but who engages in a commercial sex act with a person under 18 at some point during his stay in that foreign country, may be subject to prosecution

The United States Department of Justice Office, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Office

Section 2423(c) prohibits traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in any illicit sexual conduct. Section 2423(c) includes attempt and conspiracy, see 18 § 2423(e), and has a statutory maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

United States Sentencing Commission, March 2013

I know this does not seem like a soccer blog topic… The Prostitution of Children seems like a topic very far removed the game we love.  It is not…

Prostituted Children are being exploited all around the game, just to make a couple current examples:

  • Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema are currently awaiting deliberations from a criminal court in France on paying a minor for sexual services.

[UPDATE – Both were acquitted this morning 1/30/2014 … Ribery had admitted having paying the girl for sex over a two year period but not knowing she was a minor. Benzema denied ever engaging in sexual relations with the same 16-17 year old girl]

  • Silvio Berlusconi, owner of AC Milan and Prime Minister of Italy, was convicted of paying for sex with a 17 year old girl, facing new allegations of witness tampering in that case.

The news is not always shameful for soccer.

Wesley Snejider’s wife Yolanthe Sneijder Cabau founded Free A Girl Foundation in the Netherlands with the mission: “…to prevent and repress prostitution of children under 18, anywhere in the world.”  Wesley acts as an Ambassador for the Foundation which has liberated over 2,000 girls from sexual enslavement.

Now comes why this is most important to soccer fans…

The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world.  It is ALSO THE BIGGEST CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION EVENT in the World.   It is especially bad this tournament, as it was in South Africa, because of the economic situation of Brazil is precarious at best.  There are an estimated 2 million children currently living on the streets in Brazil all are at risk for sexual exploitation.

As part of the World Cup comes the inevitability of children being sexuality exploited by tourists.  If you are America (or British or whatever), there is NO WHEN IN ROME defense to this.  It is illegal in the US to engage in sexual activity with a minor wherever the hell you are hanging out.  Paying the child, in money, food, shelter, or whatever is child prostitution. In the US, it is a crime punishable by up to 30 years in federal prison… that is the one WITHOUT ANY PAROLE POSSIBLE.

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IT’S A PENALTY is a group effort that is working specifically educate and eradicate the commercial sexual exploitation of children primarily for UK tourists to the Cup.   They have listed David Luiz as a spokesman who in turn as enlisted Chelsea teammates Frank Lampard, Oscar, Ramires, and former teammate Paulo Ferrier as global ambassadors.  Additionally, Steven Gerrard and former player, now commentator Gary Lineker are ambassadors to spread the message as wide as possible to the UK and the World that if you engage with sexual activity with a minor, you will be punished.

The US has the second most tickets requested… We have A LOT of people traveling down for this…  DON’T DO SOMETHING SO STUPID BECAUSE YOU THINK IT’S OK IN BRAZIL… IT’S NOT OK THERE AND IT’S NOT OK HERE or or from where ever you are traveling to Brazil 

BradleyGate… Soapy Soccer Lands in America

According to Waxman [Michael Bradley’s Agent], only one other team was prepared to consider the $50 million it would take to get Bradley. Bradley wasn’t interested in going to that club, regardless of his wage

The quote is from Cathal Kelly’s brilliant and immensely detailed opus on TFO’s signing bonanza.  It is the most interesting and seemingly ignored point in the article..  Complete article from Toronto Star

Anyone doubt who the other team is?  Why does America’s best midfielder not want to play with America’s best striker week in, week out?  Why would he refuse at any price to play with America’s presumptive starting centerback?  Especially in this World Cup prep year?

This nugget of information does not make me feel any better about our chances in Brazil..

The article contains much other interesting and typically absurd MLS-only nonsense like somehow MLS teams can claim the rights of players that have zero connection with MLS.  Anyway read the whole thing and play again with BradleyGate

Might the LA Galaxy Be FINALLY getting it….

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This may do more to get me to renew my MLS Season Tickets than ANYTHING else.

My conflict over renewing my LA Galaxy season tickets continues…

I love my seatmates and my section, adore them…

Jimmy Fallon’s character in the god-awful American remake of Nick Hornsby’s book/movie Fever Pitch says “Well, it’s my summer family,” after introducing Drew Barrymore’s character to his seatmates.

That is how I view my seatmates, they are my summer family.   I adore them, watch the kids grow up year after year, know what is going on in this lives.  They are my MLS season family.  We get together to watch away matches and chat on facebook.  I cannot image summer without them.

The other day I found heaven on earth at the grocery story in the form of Salted Caramel Brownie Brittle. [They are like crack]… my first thought was, “well I know what I am bringing for opening day.”  It was then that I remembered that I had not renewed yet.

The next morning I got an e-mail from the Galaxy with a 2013 Season Ticketholder end of the year survey.  Since I already filled out the one they gave me at the actual end of the season, I thought it was odd but I wrote it off to not renewing out.  In my first one, I was honest about my reasons for most likely not renewing.

I am not ok with my money supporting the vile and abusive activities of their main supporters’ group, Angel City Brigade.  Their leadership or their face-members have a very open history of being abusive to their own players, their own fans, other teams’ fans, etc and the club supports them and their abuse.  It is not ok… it is a violation of MLS policies and not to mention morals and ethics.

I know many lovely ACB members, who just want to support their team and have fun.  This is not about them but when their leaders are abusive in their group’s name, they all get painted with that brush.  That’s life in a group unfortunately.

A few weeks ago, when I posted that I was not sure I would renew on twitter, whoever runs the Club’s account, replied inquiring if what my issue was, so I told that person too.  I get the feeling that was not the response s/he was expecting and the person was not sure how to respond.

That exchange was followed up with some ACB member joining in attack kitten mode, hoping that launching an attack on me would divert attention from my point.  In the process, she did not realize she admitted that they deliberately attack other people.   Third rule of politics, when you opponents are making your case for your, stay quiet.

A couple of other people responded to the dialogue between the LAG and me saying similar things to what I was saying either stating they personally suffered abuse or were not ok with bashing their own team members.  [Note – when I say bashing, I do not mean “WTF? You sucked tonight” there is a lot of that, yes but I am talking about tweets to their own players saying things like, “Why don’t you kill yourself” It was later deleted.  That tweet was sent from an account that many high ranking LAG staff follow.  They cannot claim that ALL of them did not see it before it was deleted.]

That was the end of that whole thing.  I calmed down and was ready to finally renew yesterday, so I decided to take that survey.  It struck me as odd that there was a code included to unlock it.  In 7 years or so of taking the survey, I never remember there being a code to include.  There may have been one every time but I do not remember any.

The survey was pretty similar to the one from the end of last season or every other season for that matter.  I filled it out and noticed stuck in the middle of one of the sections with group ratings was a “fan behavior” rating request.   I was like, “that’s new,” but just rated it and the commented my feelings in the comment section.

It reminded me how much I dislike the behavior of ACB and even more, the Club’s refusal to moderate or punish them in any way for it.  The survey reminded me why I have not yet renewed.  It is that in a nutshell. I am not ok with my money supporting abuse: of people trying to do their job or people trying to watch a match that they also paid to see.  Being a supporter is not free license to be a complete asshole, mob mentality be damned.

Fast forward to this morning at the dog park, when my old polling life came back warp speed.  Of course the “fan behavior” question was buried.  It was the only question they wanted answered.  They had answers to all the other questions from the December survey.   There are many times you conduct a survey to get one question answered.  The survey was constructed to bury the desired question and to give cover to the response if necessary.

Because the taker was asked only to rank the fan behavior experience on a scale, they can finagle the results as needed.  They can also track who answered and where they are seats by the individual code entered presumably.  The real interesting results will be reviewing the comments section which no one but a select few will ever see, unless they glowing then they will be turned into promo material.

The interesting/important part is not the results of the survey; it is that they conducted it at all.  Might I not be the only one critical of the Galaxy’s golden fans?  Honestly, showing effort to deal with the abuse would go a long way in my finally renewing.

I already miss my summer family… I have not seen most of them since early November.  They need to experience the Brownie Brittle too.

Ibra Tweets New Volvo Ad.. Choses Wrong Music

It’s a celebration of Sweden, apparently using its national anthem. Here is the thing, it is STILL the wrong music.

This video requires the Rocky IV training montage and NOTHING ELSE.

Doubt me, play it once with the anthem then volume off and play with the Training Montage…

Now please note, Zlatan fails to wear a shirt throughout and often times pants but smoking hot partner Helena Seger seems fine with it.  Clearly Sweden is not known for fashion then.

Mr. Worldwide Doing the World Cup Song

Mr. Worldwide Doing the World Cup Song

Predictions: totally addictive dance track that lyrically makes no sense, much like Waka-Waka

Pitbull’s section wll sound JUST LIKE every other Pitbull section in every other Pitbull collaborative  song.

Girls of all ages will go insane for it.

Drake will be crying in a Canadian corner somewhere

It is fail to be ANYWHERE near has epic as Ricky Martin’s Cup of Life (France 1998).. Re-live it below

Oh MLS.. Diversity is Not Your Thing, but You Talk a Good Game

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MLS Coaches – A LOT of White Guys in One Pic

The above picture was tweeted by SI’s Brian Straus today, ironically on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King’s Dream. Of course, I responded with the appalling lack of diversity in the MLS, as evidenced by the photo. It developed in a twit-versation about diversity in MLS.  For my money, Straus and Steve Goff are, far and way, the top of soccer journalism in America, so I always eagerly await their opinions on topics of the game.

During the discussion, Straus sent me the link to The 2013 Racial and Gender Report Card: Major League Soccer.  It is a 29 page analysis of where MLS stands in terms of diversity.  After reading the entire report, my take away is this If you are a woman or are black or Asian MLS is bleak for you and your career.  If you are a white then you are golden; if you are Hispanic you are the doing ok for the most part.

The report notes that for only the second time in MLS history, players of color outnumber white players (52.3% were players of color).  Yet at the time of the report, only two coaches were not white, both Hispanic males (Pareja and at the time, Chivas USA’s Real).  Things have changed but not really.  There are no African-American or Asian coaches.

As for assistant coaches, a mind-boggling small percentage are African-Americans (1.6% of MLS assistant coaches).  The category, “other,” minority is almost quadruple that of African-American assistant coaches. Of course, there are zero women.  How does one get to be a head coach without any experience as an assistant?

At the top of the club level is almost barren as well.  While owners are all male and mainly white with some limited Latino and Asian ownership, their CEOs/Presidents and General Managers are by and large, white males.  There was a single white woman (Jody Allen of the Sounders) and two Hispanic males (Jose David of Chivas and Petrei of the Fire) in those roles.

As for the step below, there were 9 female VPs including Mardi Walker who is TFO’s, “Senior VP of People.”  None of the women are involved in the game side of the club activities, instead running administration/finance/human resources or marketing and ticket sales.  There are 6 persons of color (all male) holding VP positions in MLS clubs, none of them are in technical/game side of club’s business.

The League’s head office has 3 persons of color (all male) in VP roles and only Nelson Rodriguez is on the technical side as Executive Vice President of Competition, Technical and Game Operations [Note – He actually resigned almost two weeks ago and was replaced with Jeff Agoos and Todd Durbin splitting his job per the Philly Union  and thanks to @sterling_m for the heads-up].  So that is exactly zero minorities now in game related senior roles.

Six women hold senior titles in the MLS executive offices including Kathryn Carter (President of Soccer United Marketing), the VP of Special Events and Consumer Products, Licensing and Retail Development [that is Emily Unruh].  The League was giving an A+ and an A- respectively for racial and gender hiring.  They have 38.3% of all positions in with the league.

There has not been a female head trainer in MLS since 2007, yeah that is 7 [yes SEVEN years] and there has not been an African-American head trainer since 2008, so just 6 years.   Also there were zero female team doctors in the 2013, season dropping from 2.2% of all team physicians in the 2012 season.  Asian and African-American team physicians also lost ground in 2013.  Only the Latino physicians saw an increase in hiring.

MLS also experienced a 12.3% decrease in minority radio/television announcers.   There were 12.5% less Latino announcers than last season.  African-Americans picked up two points and are now 2.2% of MLS announcers.  There have been ZERO Asian announcers since 2005, IN NINEYEARS.  Yet, Asians own almost 6% of the clubs.   Women jumped 2.6% to 6.6 in the 2013 after the great fall of 2011 when we went from 10% to 2%.   If you are wondering minorities made by 40% of MLS’s broadcasters in 2011, and 18.7% in 2013.

The league was given an “A+” for MLS Diversity Initiatives..  So basically talking a good game and not doing a hell of to make positive changes.   If you are Asian, African-American or a woman, you especially have NO ROLE in the actual, technical side of the game, just in selling it and selling tickets for it.

This is simply an American Soccer Disgrace…  MLS, US Soccer and fans need to demand more from the American game.  Diversity cannot be something the league pays only pays in lipservice establishing, “initiatives” and marketing campaigns around.  IT MUST BE SOMETHING THE LEAGUE ACTIVELY WORKS TO INCORPORATE INTO EVERY FACET OF ITS EXISTENCE.