Talking with Josh over at thecup.us about the U-20 World Cup, and how many freaking college kids the US is fielding. Here's a comparison of club affiliations of a few teams in the tournament. Spoiler on today's game at the bottom.
Goalkeepers: Manchester United, Hamburg, Bremen.
Defenders: Frankfurt, Dortmund, 1860, Bayern, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Bielefeld.
Midfielders: Leverkusen, Bremen, Dortmund, Ahlen (never heard of them), Schalke, Kayserispor, Bursaspor (the last two are Turkish - fine, you knew that already)
Forwards: Leverkusen, 1860, Greuther Fuerth (who?), Bremen.
I don't feel like typing it out, but only six of them play for Cameroonian clubs. In fairness, the foreign clubs listed are not necessarily top of the line.
All domestic-based. That struck me as unusual, since Brazil has to be the most heavily scouted football nation.
And, the UNITED STATES:
FC Dallas: 3 players - Brek Shea, Josh Lambo, Pero Marosevic.
Chivas USA: 2 players - Gerson Mayen (who replaced CUSA teammate Anthony Wallace) and El Sueno.
Houston Dynamo: Danny Cruz.
Hertha Berlin: Bryan Arguez.
Club Brugge: Jared Jeffrey.
Stabaek (Norway, apparently): Mikkel Diskerud. Grew up in Oslo, says this USSF interview.
The rest of the roster does not play professionally. Arguez actually replaced a college player, Sam Garza.
Paul Kennedy has background on some of the players, and it's...well....
This is the most wacky, random assortment pool of players I've seen since the 1990 World Cup team, if not the 1950 World Cup team. I have no idea whether such a random assortment of players making up a youth national team is an indictment or credit to coaches, players, clubs, talent pool, or God knows what. (Keep in mind that this is technically Jozy Altidore's class.)
But it sounds like this is the current state of US youth development:
(1) MLS clubs are focusing on winning today rather than developing youth projects - Jeff Agoos schooling Freddy Adu writ large.
(2) Young US players are, in whatever percentage, (a) preferring to stay in college than try the pros and (b) avoiding MLS wherever possible.
(3) Shouldn't Generation Adidas be picking up a lot more of these guys? Or is Rongen just making wacky picks?
(4) A college scholarship still outranks an MLS contract (PLEASE at least tell me the guys on this roster are at least on freaking scholarship). For 99.9% of college athletes, yes, it's wise to focus on a career outside pro sports, but I mean, you'd think once you got to the level of the U-20 World Cup, you'd at least consider doing this for money.
(5) Unless all these guys, according to MLS, are only worth $12,000 a year or so. Tying into #1, if these guys don't help you win, and don't sell tickets...then by God, that's how much these guys are worth, and they SHOULD stay in school. This is a topic that we won't settle in a blog post.
(6) Like the main US World Cup team, we've got a few really good players, but no depth. The talent dropoff from starter (and Altidore) to sub is going to be an issue for US teams for the foreseeable.
(7) SPECIAL SPOILER EDITION ON TODAY'S CAMEROON GAME: Well, over the weekend, all this would have made one think US soccer development has totally stalled, and that we can't compete with world powers. Maybe not, as far as Germany, but today's game....
Well, of course, we don't judge player development by single games in U-20 tournaments, however important - we judge player development by whether these guys ever contribute to a pro team.
Still...are we better off than we look, or is Cameroon even more ********ed than we are?