Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by cpwilson80, Aug 11, 2002.

  1. cpwilson80

    cpwilson80 Member+

    Mar 20, 2001
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The "top MLS players going abroad" debate has surfaced numerous times here, especially after our quality WC run, the McBride situation and the recent All Star game.

    I wanted to look at with a different persepective. We have already considered how it will affect player development, league attendance, and expectations for future players. What hasn't been discussed (or at least discussed that much) is the sociological effect abroad of having US players in the top leagues.

    A oft used and valid point against having players go abroad is it is difficult for an American to break in to regular first team play. While I don't think the stereotype against Americans playing soccer is so egregious that it prevents players from ever getting time, it is still present. For example, if we had a top ten player in the world right now, his transfer value would be lower than an Italian or Brazilian of similar quality. It's just like the Ivy League graduate is initially perceived to be smarter than the grad from your local state school, even if the two are of the same intelligence level.

    These preconceived notions are unjust, but they are a reality. Could it be, then, that we need to have top players go abroad and suffer some setbacks in the beginning for the long term opportunities and success of future players going abroad?

    Here is how I see the path to gaining acceptance abroad:
    -We need to have top players start playing regularly at the highest level possible in top divisions - even if it is just a newly promoted team to Serie A or EPL, so be it.
    -Once there, the players need to perform well enough to solidify their places as starters.
    -After a few seasons, the players transfer to a bigger club and least win spots in the starting lineup, or at least squad rotations

    I'd rather see a bunch of players become contributors to a top winning side than have one guy light the league on fire. In the latter case, the success of the American player can easily be viewed as an abberation from the norm. In the past, this has been the case too: Harkes, Ramos and Reyna were/are successes in Europe, but can be viewed as exceptions.

    Again, I am only looking at how to gain general acceptance for American players abroad. I realize there is a whole host of other issues that must be considered in the MLS player abroad debate, but for now, disregard them.

    If we have 5-8 players who followed the aforementioned path in the next 5 years or so, I believe the attiude in Europe would start to shift more favorably towards US soccer.
  2. MtMike

    MtMike Member+

    Nov 18, 1999
    the 417
    Sporting Kansas City
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    there's a doctoral dissertation possibility in this subject some where.
  3. Werdguy

    Werdguy New Member

    Jul 15, 2002
    New York

    easily said, but not easily done...
  4. Cascade2021

    Cascade2021 New Member

    This notion of Americans not getting enough playing time on the basis that they're American and therefore suffer predjudice from team coaches/managers is complete and utter rubbish. If you're good enough, you're good enough. It dosen't matter where you come from, how old you are, or what colour your skin is. A coach will always try to put his best eleven players on the pitch.
  5. irvine

    irvine Member

    Nov 24, 1998
    S. Portland, ME
    But a coach's evaluation of which players are his best eleven are due to human nature conditioned by all kinds of prejudices, one of which in Europe has to do with the existence of American soccer players. This isn't (or shouldn't be) surprising; coaches are people, and people all have personal prejudices.

  6. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    Re: Re: Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

    There are players from a large number of 'non traditional' soccer countries playing at the highest level in European Leagues. If such players were discriminated against, this is unlikely to be the case.
  7. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    m, a closer investigation will reveal that those "nontraditional" soccer playing countries have one of two things: either a longer soccer playing history (read div.1 league) or, like australia et al, they are members of the commonwealth, and have no problem with getting a work permit in places like england.
  8. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    You'd be hard stratched to say that countries such as Korea, China and Japan have significantly longer running leagues. And being a Commonwealth country doesn't afford any advantage in obtaining a UK work permit these days - several Australian players have had permit applications declined, for example.
  9. kpaulson

    kpaulson New Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Washington DC
    OK--- but it's also fair to say that not too many Korean, Chinese and Japanese players are starting either... I think there's a bias against them as well: did anyone really think any east Asian player could play, besides Ono and Nakata before the world cup? I know I didn't.
    And even Nakata didn't consistently start in Italy...

    But all of this doesn't mean there isn't a bias against the US-- merely that this bias extends to other nationalities as well.
  10. sydtheeagle

    sydtheeagle New Member

    May 21, 2002
    Sociological means, broadly, "of or directed at social needs or problems." So I turned to this thread expecting to find an interesting new take, not another moan about Americans abroad.

    What gives?
  11. cpwilson80

    cpwilson80 Member+

    Mar 20, 2001
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sociological also means 'of or relating to sociology', which in turn, is the study of a collective behavior of a group. I think the use of the word is fairly pertinent here.

    I've got to bounce to work, but thanks for all the comments. I'll touch up upon some other issues later
  12. quarterUltra

    quarterUltra Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Stillwater, OK
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    CPWilson, Your subject use of the word sociological does not quite match the point you are trying to make. If you are concerned about how players may be effected and affected individually, then we have psychological impact. The sociological effect would be more along the lines of attendance ratings -- a broader study of the fan base, economic impact of the clubs and the league in the MLS from losing key players.

    MtMike, yes, definitely a doctoral dissertation topic -- potentially twice as thick if both sociological and psychological aspects were studied. Let's start with Mr. Landon Donovan.
  13. ignatz

    ignatz New Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    Washington, DC
    While Americans playing Europe has its positive sides, I'm not all that convinced that "acceptance" by Europe should matter to us all that much.

    It would have two positive sides: (1) more Yanks playing at higher levels would help the USMNT by increasing skills; and (2) it could increase transfer fees when US players go abroad.

    As to the second, except to keep the wolf from the MLS door, I don't care. I'd much rather see Beasley and Donovan play in the league I watch than to hope I can pick them up occasionally on Fox Sports World. This is what, in the end, will put fannies in seats at MLS games, and bring TV ratings and all the rest. For all his skills, John O'Brien is a non-entity to a lot of US fans most of the year. His Ajax training is great, but I've only seen the guy play live once.

    As to the first point, improving skills, the O'Brien example speaks for itself. Reyna and Keller and Friedel are other examples. But if more O'Briens and Beaselys and Donovans and the rest stay home, the quality of the league and hence the quality of the players will go up here as well.

    There really is a chicken and egg aspect to this. MLS can't afford all of these guys, but the quality would improve if it could. If the quality improved, then -- big assumption -- attendence and TV ratings would grow, and the money would be available to pay them.

    I suspect it is an incremental process, with a mixture of both Europe and staying home -- which is what we have now. But the bottom line should be strengthening our domestic league as well as the MNT, and going to Europe is not the be-all and end-all. Brazilian players are, as was said, the most respected in the world. The same is not true for Brazil's domestic league. That's not the model we should want.
  14. Rodan

    Rodan New Member

    Feb 16, 1999
    Thanks Cascade2021. Sometimes the truth can be simple.

    When American players are good enough to play at the highest levels in the best leagues, the problem will take care of itself.
  15. RSwenson

    RSwenson Member

    Feb 1, 2000
    I think that it is important that a few go, but that they have at least the opportunity to show what they can do... going to the major clubs first is probably not the best way to go even for a Donovan... remember, John O'Brien's route to the Ajax first team was through Utrecht, and that was despite the fact that he was an Ajax product...

    I think that the model in Germany is right (even if Germany is not the right place for many Amis)... we had players in the late 80's and early 90's who did pretty well and now there are more Amis playing in the various divisions there than in any other major soccer nation... progress will come slowly and no American is going to be given a spot (or even a break) without proving worthy (i.e., clearly better than local options)... that is why it is so important to have a solid domestic league so that the best players don't have to go, but that the few who elect to make the leap can be ready to sieze the opportunity...

  16. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    DC United
    I felt the same way.

  17. GoDC

    GoDC Member

    Nov 23, 1999
    Hamilton, VA
    You exepcted what on BigSoccer??
  18. MarioKempes

    MarioKempes Member+

    Real Madrid, DC United, anywhere Pulisic plays
    Aug 3, 2000
    Raleigh, NC
    Real Madrid
    You speak of the ideal. Nearly everyone agrees with it on paper, but we all know prejudice exists and discrimination is practiced worldwide. So the notion that a player is discriminated against based on nationality is hardly controversial or a revelation.

    You are not qualified to say what is "complete and utter rubbish". You cannot know this. You would have to investigate each and every team in depth, which you obviously haven't done.

    On the flip side, unless people can talk about specific instances of discrimination, I find this exercise a waste of time.
  19. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: Re: Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

    Donovan certainly feels Leverkusen discriminated against him because of his nationality, and given the facts of his case, I'd say he's probably right.
  20. Manolo

    Manolo Moderator
    Staff Member

    May 14, 1997
    Queens, NY
    This is akin to a company saying that only the most qualified applicants will be accepted, regardless of race, color, or religion. Of course, the real world doesn't work that way, and decisions such as "who are the 11 best players" are as subject to as much debate as you see here every day on BigSoccer. In addition, speculating that coaches/managers are not susceptible to prejudices is extremely naive, they are just a susceptible as any other group of human beings.
  21. adila4

    adila4 New Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    new york
    im not sure if the american players are getting discriminated against but let me give u an example of a player from a non traditional soccer country playing in one of the top leagues and one of the top teams in europe....... hasan salihamidzic is from bosina-herzgovina and he plays for bayern munich in the german bundesliga so if a guy from bosina herzegovina can get in to one of the top leagues in europe and an american cant that has to make you think maybe there not good enough to get in.
  22. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    Re: Re: Re: Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

    I see. So Leverkusen signed Donovan so they could discriminate against him?
  23. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    One thing that hurts the American soccer player abroad is the anti-Americanism that comes with the US being the only superpower left in the world.

    Some countries see Americans as brash, arrogant types (England, Japan, etc), others dislike the U.S. for its negative influence on their culture (France, the Middle East, etc), and others because we've periodically invaded them or propped up their dictators in the past (Central America, South America, etc).

    But the one thing they could always take pride in was that while the U.S. might dominate the world economically, militarily, and culturally, at least their own countries soccer players were far superior to any American players.

    I think that slowly things are changing for the better for the American player abroad, but at least for now, the U.S. soccer player needs to be considerably better than any teammates at his postition to get more than a token amount of playing time.
  24. Rocket

    Rocket Member

    Aug 29, 1999
    Everton FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

    No, Leverkusen's management can take credit for being smart enough to sign one of the world's top young players.

    But the team's coaches, out of stupidity and/or stubborness, kept him playing 4th division soccer almost the whole time he was there.
  25. M

    M Member+

    Feb 18, 2000
    Via Ventisette
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sociological Effect of Sending MLS Players Abroad

    I might just about buy the stupidity part, but stupidity doesn't equal discrimination. Very very few players break into the Bundesliga at the age Donovan was when he played there, be they German or American or anything else. And given the competition he had at Levekusen for a first team place, I think you'd be very hard pressed to come up with a rational argument that it was discrimination that kept him out of the first team.

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