Top People affected by USA missing the World Cup

Christian Pulisic

The young American forward is just 19 years of age and is currently starting with Borrusia Dortmund. This World Cup was the big opportunity for him to showcase himself to the world and the American audience, now he won’t have that chance. Many of the all-time greats had their teenage world cup where they showcased their talent and got the attention of the world. Pele made the World Cup at 17, Messi 18 and Ronaldo 18. These are the names Pulisic wants to be with and missing the World Cup is a huge hit to get that level.

Pulisic will lose his chance to make a name for himself on the world stage  (Image: Getty Images )

Pulisic was the best player on the field in the disaster versus Trinidad and Tobago and had been for the US throughout the qualifying phase. This was part of the problem, At many times during this qualifying phase, he seemed the only player trying to create and dribble to spaces. So while Pulisic is a once in a lifetime talent, he is still 19 and needs the team to help. He is still not at the level where he can carry a team by himself. Messi scored a hat trick to get his team in, Pulisic isn’t there yet.

It’s hard to remember this kid should still be in college if he was playing a more traditional American sport. Borrusia Dortmund is right now in pole position in the Bundesliga and the mix for the champions league and he is starting for them. It’s like a nineteen-year-old being a starter for the Cavs or Warriors. While all that is extremely impressive if he was part of probably any other country he would be a break out star you would see in every type of media on your daily basis.

The summer in Russia was a chance for that, to get his name in every American living room, get the big money sponsorship contract and become the face of American soccer. Put in mind he has already done what Landon Donovan never could. Get established in a top German side. Yet too many people believe Landon Donovan is far better and thatthere shouldn’t be a discussion. But at 19 he did what Donovan couldn’t in his whole career. It was Pulisic’s chance to be up there with the greats but now he will have to wait and continue being the unloved prodigy that he is.

FOX

The second person probably most affected by the USA missing the World Cup is Fox, the network TV channel, that paid $400 million to get the rights to show the World Cup in America. While the World Cup will get its viewers from the devoted soccer fans, it is a loss when a lot of the bandwagon USA fans don’t show up.

Every World Cup thousands and thousands of people become USA soccer fans that have not watch a single qualifying game. They love rooting for their country no matter the sport or occasion. Those people won’t be pumped to watch a Germany vs Argentina. They are asking for the USA and this world cup they won’t get it.

The nation will be in a grim state while the rest of the world takes part in the celebration. This world cup will have earlier kick-off times, than in 2014, and the USA won’t be in it. This presents a real challenge for Fox who will have to get people hyped to wake up early and watch Soccer to a base of people who don’t really like it.

Rooting for America has always brought in the viewers that don’t care about the sport and just want the Raw-Raw aspect of it. It will be a real surprised if Fox gets numbers anywhere near what ESPN got in 2014.

MLS and the USA development system

Third and the one that might be the most condemned by this disaster is the MLS and the development of their players. With the money that has been thrown into the system, which the numbers are in the billions, how have they failed to produce a decent crop of players that can survive the CONCACAF. The USA even without the rich traditions of soccer has the athletes and the money to easily qualify for every World Cup like they have the last thirty years. So the push that all these developmental programs were supposed to make turn out to be a regression. Now a team like Panama which the USA has always dominated is going to the World Cup.

Micheal Bradley quit Roma to go play in the MLS, which is a huge drop in Level (Image: Getty Images)

The other fact is the league many of the stars of recent years have left big teams in Europe to come play in the MLS for high paying contracts. So While those decisions did help Micheal Bradley and Dempsey be happy they have clearly affected the team. The level in the MLS is much lower than top leagues in Europe and even when you bring players that were succeeding overseas their form will drop if they are not playing the best.

It’s impossible to unlock a level they haven’t been practicing or playing at. As of right now, on the roster there are only five players are in Europe and the rest are in the MLS. This, in turn, made the USA team an MLS team which is nowhere good enough when it comes to the world stage.

Expect now most American players to not buy in the American system and do what Pulisic did and leave at a young age to continue your development. USA should be pushing these guys to get on the best teams possible in Europe and not on the focus on growing the MLS.

If the MLS truly had a good and organized development system than it should be producing enough players to support the local league but also have the best leave to the best league. The best example of this is Argentina and Brazil. They have thriving leagues locally and their National teams are full of players playing aboard in Europe. To be the best you have to have your players playing with the best, its that simple, and the USA has gotten away from that.

The sad, frustrating part is the USA has the money and the resources to so much better. This should be a wake-up sign for the whole league that they are not producing players. As of right now close to 50% of the league are foreigners. This to me shows clubs have to go out and get players to play at the level they want, meaning they aren’t producing it.

So while most people will criticize the coaches who have been there or the players simply not providing a fight when things weren’t going their way. I think this failure in qualification shows how far the USA is at development compared with countries with way less to work with. People keep saying America doesn’t have the players to compete, well maybe it is because we are not developing them. Teams like Germany and Spain developed their talent they are

Ultimately the saddest thing of all this is that the USA won’t have a chance to redeem themselves until another four years. So hopefully when that time comes the USA national team has made drastic changes and we see a competitive team again.

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U.S. Open Cup Match Preview: Atlanta United vs Miami FC

As we know, alongside the MLS season going on right now, the U.S. Open Cup is also going on. The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is currently the oldest ongoing competition in American soccer. The U.S. Open Cup has been running for 104 years. Many soccer fans compare it to that of the FA Cup in English soccer where clubs of different levels face off in a large tournament. The first round started back in the first week of May which was the Open round. Any club in the country could enter. The second batch of teams coming in during the first round consisted of NPSL (National Premier Soccer League)/PDL (Premier Development League) teams. This would conclude the open rounds. During the second round, which started the following week, NASL (North American Soccer League)/USL (United Soccer League) teams joined in. Finally during the final week of May the MLS (Major League Soccer) teams join in as well.

 

Above is a map showing all 99 teams that are participating in the U.S. Open Cup this year. As you can see there are representatives of many areas across the country. Some clubs that you may be familiar with as well as others that may not be known. Now let’s get to the point. This fifth round matchup between Atlanta United FC and Miami FC. Let’s take a look at each team.

Atlanta United FC

This new MLS Expansion team has been creating quite some buzz in the league. As of right now they sit in 6th Place in the East and 10th Place in the Supporters Shield Standings with 24 pts and a record of (7-7-3). They are averaging 1.41 PPG and currently hold a (5-2-0) record at home. They also lead the league with 33 goals as a team. Pretty impressive stats for a team still in their first season. None of this would be possible without the talented roster that they have. For example, the top scorer of the team, Josef Martinez is currently sitting on 7 goals on the season. If it were not for his injury he received playing for the Venezuelan National team back in March he may be at the top of the scoring table for the league. This injury caused him to miss games all the way up until recently where he slowly got back in to the starting XI.

During his absence, players such as Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba really stepped up to the plate to provide some scoring for the “Five Stripes”. They also have players such as Yamil Asad in the midfield, who is currently tied as league leader with 9 assists on the season. Atlanta United also has plenty of older more experienced players such as Tyrone Mears and Jeff Larentowicz as well. Take all of this in to consideration and then add a coach such as Gerardo “Tata” Martinez in the mix and you can expect a solid team.

Atlanta will definitely be trying to make a name for itself straight out the gates. Some say this is one of the most successful expansion teams since Seattle. Let’s see if they can hold up to that expectation!

Miami FC

Miami FC is who will be opposing Atlanta in this match. They are also a fairly new team. Founded in May of 2015, Miami FC is currently participating in the NASL. They currently lead the NASL with 30 pts and a record of (9-3-1). Miami also leads the NASL with 23 goals scored. Paired with the highest scoring offense in the league they also only conceded 9 goals in the 13 games they have played. This shows that Miami can also play a good defensive game. I guess Alessandro Nesta is teaching this team a thing or two during his time at head coach for this club.

Last round Miami FC made a huge statement by defeating the MLS side Orlando City FC. The game ended in a 3-1 win for Miami FC with a hat-trick from Stefano Pinho. Many will try to argue that Orlando was playing a lazy game and not taking Miami seriously. I think the scoreline says otherwise though. Miami played a great game taking lots of shots on goal. Even though Orlando had the advantage in possession, they had problems executing in the attacking half. If anything, this game shows that Miami can and will take out an MLS side. Atlanta cannot take these guys lightly.

One thing Miami will have to take in to consideration is the amount of ex-Atlanta Silverbacks players on their roster. This is a definite advantage to them since the players know the system Atlanta will be playing and have played against some of these players before. Miami’s roster is also filled with players with MLS experience. Miami has players such as Gabriel Farfan, Jonathan Barrajo, Michael Lahoud, and Blake Smith just to name a few.

My prediction

Miami and Atlanta are both strong teams on paper and on the field. This game will be very high paced and aggressive. Miami has the home field advantage which is also important. Atlanta definitely shows that they struggle when not playing at home. Most of those away losses did come during a time when Josef Martinez was injured though and Atlanta was still trying to find themselves as a team without their leading scorer. Miami on the other hand, does well at home and away. They also show that they do not let MLS opposition scare them as we saw against Orlando last round. Their previous MLS experience will show but at the end of the day I see Atlanta pulling this one through. Even though they have less MLS experience they do have players with lots of international experience. Atlanta’s fast paced play is hard to keep up with for any team.

It will be a low scoring game. My prediction for end score is 2-1 for Atlanta. Will the “Five Stripes” pull through with another victory or will Miami upset another MLS side on their journey to the U.S. Open Cup final? The game takes place June 28, 2017 at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, FL at 7:30pm EST. It will be streamed here at the U.S. Soccer site. Will you be watching? Who do you think will win?

 

Featured Image by Miami FC, other images from US Soccer and Atlanta United

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MLS logo

MLS TV Ratings: Why are viewers missing the net?

Last week Major League Soccer revealed a new plan to Sports Business Daily that involved boosting TV ratings. As we all know, soccer is a sport that is still growing in popularity year by year here in the United States. Hopes are that one day soccer will be just as popular in the U.S. as it is in other regions of the world.

Game attendance has been at record highs this year, with new expansion team Atlanta United having amazing turnouts for their first few home games. However, the TV ratings just do not seem to match.

Parts of this new plan is to replicate the television production values of other major sports in the country. Some of the things listed in this new plan include:

  • microphones on coaches for listen ins
  • cameras in locker rooms pregame
  • allowing access to team huddles

These things all sound interesting and will give viewers a lot more to look forward to when watching their favorite clubs go head to head each weekend, but will they be enough?

Take a look at some of the broadcasts of games from other leagues around the world. Let’s use the English Premier League as an example. None of these things are necessary, yet the viewers and ratings are always high on gameday. Fans know the competition is fierce and the league is challenging the players. Could there be underlying factors that may stop people from showing too much interest to the games on television as compared to just going to support your club on the pitch on gameday?

 

MLS

Photo by Deadspin

 

Let’s take a look at the general format of the MLS and think about the excitement factor for a second compared to other leagues. The MLS season lasts about 8 months, and just over half of the teams qualify for the playoffs. This does not make the competition as fierce as compared to other leagues.

I will use the example of the English Premier League again to compare. The EPL season is the same length, but there is way more at stake based on where you place in the league once it is all said and done. There is also no playoff tournament to figure out who the winner of the league is. First place in the standings is the winner of the league.

This does not stop the other teams from working towards placing well though. The top four teams qualify for the Champions League while the fifth through seventh place teams can battle for Europa League contention.

All of these are still very sought after and commendable titles to go after. Knowing where your team places and what is at stake is definitely something that will make fans want to sit down every week and catch these matches. The fans now feel as if every game counts towards an end goal of trying to either win the league or at least qualify for one of these tournaments.

 

Premier League Tables

Image by www.premierleague.com

 

The MLS should also look into partnering up with some of the lower-tier leagues to enforce a promotion or relegation type of system. In the EPL, the bottom three teams in the league face relegation down to a lower league. They then get replaced by the top three teams from the league below it. This brings the pressure to perform.

People will support their clubs in any way possible to ensure the players are performing well enough to avoid relegation. This also gives teams with great potential in areas where there may not be an MLS team the opportunity to grow in to a top contender at some point.

All of these factors will raise the amount of support and viewership. You will have new people in new areas watching. People who are already watching will be more inclined to watch due to the extra entertainment value of the added pressures of these new systems put in to place.

The MLS has done a lot for American soccer and will continue to do so. These are the changes that I feel are necessary to further the growth of American soccer and gain more support.

What are some things you would like to see added or changed by the MLS to promote ratings and growth? Feel free to comment below and let’s talk about it.

 

Featured Image by World Soccer Talk

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