No, this is not a cap defenders in the MLS thread, but I want to encourage discussion about the role MLS has with regards to developing defenders for the National Team. Before I launch off I'll briefly (emphasis on briefly, don't take off my head) highlight how MLS has done at other parts of the field. GK---Friedel and Howard both moved form the MLS directly to a top four PL team, respectively. Hahnemann moved form an MLS team to Fulham and then to Reading. Keller went abroad long before MLS came into existence. Guzan went frm the MLS to a top 8 English side in Aston Villa. So out of our 5 most recent accomplished goalies, four went directly from the MLS to top flight competition (fulham wasn't in the PL when Hahnemann transferred), while the 5th was abroad for much longer. MF- this one is a much larger list, so I'm going to condense and talk about a shortlist of players. Donovan--went on loan directly to Bayern Munich. Dempsey- transferred directly to the Prem. Klejstan---despite his woeful form of late, was involved with Celtic talks at the turn of the year. Edu---MLS to top Champions Leauge team Rangers, Bradley--- MLS to Hereveen at a young, young age. Ricardo Clark---that Rennes rumor, plus he went on Trial with a Spanish team a couple years back. Beasley--- From MLS to PSV. Eddie Lewis---from MLS to England. Notable midfielders to not have any development in MLS. Feilhaber---from the U-20 World cup to Hamburg. Szetela---I know he was on Columbus's books, but he got that move to Spain because of youth national team play. Torres---obviously choose to go the Mexican route, which I wish more of our players would take. Conclusion---MLS at least gives midfielders the oppurtunity to ply their trade abroad, combined with solid national team play (though not always). Still, the direct Euro route can still be just as successful. FW-The dearth of the national team for the past cycle, alongside left back. Johnson--MLS to Fulham, also he recieved looks from top Spanish sides. McBride---was able to get Loaned from MLS to the PL, and eventually transferred directly. Casey---MLS to Bundesliga II side. Mathis---MLS to Germany, though largey on World Cup Form. I'll list Dempsey here too, rather than in MF, just because he's a tweener and he plays up top for us so much, and Fulham occasionally. Altidore--- from MLS to top Spanish side. Beyond that we have a ton of forwards that have bypassed the MLS and are all over the various lower leagues of Europe. MLS forwards have always been given strong looks at the International Level. Charlie Davies might be the argument that Euro experience might be a better route, but MLS still works. Finally we have defense. I'm going to go from positions across the backline. LB----Pearce and Bornstein. Pearce went from College abroad(to the same team Parkhurst transferred to. Bornstein has stayed in the MLS, and probably wouldn't transfer to a bigger league then the Danish League. MLS nor other options have really produced a quality fit here. Bocanegra is an argument I'll leave to you guys. CB- Oneywu, Bocanegra, Demerit, Parkhurst, Marshall, Califf. Out of those 6, 2/6 had minimal (Demerit had Reserve league) and Oneywu MLS experience. For the Centerback position, I'd argue they have the best pedigrees, with Bocanegra edging Demerit out slightly. Parkhurst and Califf both went MLS to Danish Leagues. Marshall, the reigning MLS defender of the year got strong looks from a Bundesliga II team as a rotational player. Also, note that Pope played the entirety of his very successful international career in the MLS. RB-- Cherundolo, Wynne, Spector, Simek, and Hejduk. Cherundolo, one of our most accomplished field players never touched MLS. Wynne is still a project and Hejduk has played his whole career in MLS. Spector, Simek had overseas connections with Spector's dad being an Ex-Pat and Simek's dad getting sent overseas. Granted all of this is not the whole sample size, but here is my ultimate conclusion: For whatever reasons, MLS is simply not developing defenders that are capable of playing at a high level on the international level. This could be a fault of our youth system. This could be because European teams will be more likely to take a chance on an unknown attacking player than a defender due to foreign quotas, etc. Only one US defender (Ryan Nelson withstanding) has transfered directly from MLS to a top 4 league, Carlos Bocanegra. Many people like to debate wether US players should bypass the MLS in lieu of going directly to Europe. With the exception of defenders, I would argue that many people have seen just as much success from spending time in the MLS. Ultimately, the MLS simply has not been able to improve the quality of our defenders at the same rate as it has other positions, or at the rate that Europe has improved them (Oneywu and Bocanegra stand out as having benfited immensly from European moves). So how can we make American defenders more attractive to European clubs. How can MLS improve our defender's development. Is this a level of play, style of play fault within the MLS? Is it a Youth system flaw? Discuss.