Written by Will Parchman

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A quick glimpse at the Stanford midfield right now is a harrowing thing for the Cardinal’s opposition. It is, without a single lingering shadow of doubt, the best midfield in the country. And at the very least it has the most promise as of the start of the 2016 women’s season, which arrives this very day.

Andi Sullivan, one of the three best players in the country at any position, was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2014 class. Jordan DiBiasi and Michelle Xiao were No. 6 and No. 7 in the 2015 class. And Tierna Davidson, the No. 5 player in the 2016 class, just showed up on campus this summer. There isn’t a better freshman holding midfielder in the country, and there maybe hasn’t been one better in some time.

Stanford will probably win the Pac-12 in 2016. And they may win a national title for the second time in program history. At the very least, nobody in the country is better on paper. And barring something odd, all four of those midfielders, each of whom would carry any other team in the country on their own, will be back for the 2017 season. All of them.

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Written by Will Parchman

Haji-Wright

As we already know, Haji Wright is doing things with Schalke’s U19s at the moment. After officially joining the club earlier this year once he hit his 18th birthday, the wispy attacker is already putting in goals against some heady competition. And he’s done it alongside a couple Americans, notably former FC Dallas academy midfielder and U.S. U19 Weston McKennie. He’s expected to finalize his Schalke contract once he turns 18 later this month.

Wright was something of an enigma during the latter part of his tenure with the U17 MNT 2013-15 cycle. Wright popped onto a lot of radars – Schalke’s included – thanks to his Golden Boot performance at the 2013 Nike International Friendlies, a tournament that also helped launch Christian Pulisic to Dortmund.

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Written by Will Parchman

cropp

The words come spilling out like so many marbles, barbed phrases like “unfulfilled promise” and “unfortunate turn of events.” Every time an American player retreats across the Atlantic to refill MLS’s coffers, the darker side of the discussion is inevitable. Most of us simply nod and go about the business of the day.

It is a tricky thing, objectively analyzing a player’s decision to remove themselves from the cement mixer of Europe and return home to MLS. On one hand it does feel somewhat like a vanquished party retreating from the line of battle. To a man, they were in Europe to, as renowned pirate Henry Avery might put it, fulfill their destiny as men of fortune and seek their fortune.

And yet there is also the nagging thought lurking somewhere in the back that perhaps that isn’t all of it. That maybe there can be a victory in retreat.

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Written by Will Parchman

nico

If Steven Gerrard’s truncated half season with the LA Galaxy in 2015 was not a full fledged dumpster fire, then it was something resembling a small blaze in a dirty trash can.

Gerrard was OK in spurts, leaning on his wooden, rickety legs to spray a few incisive passes and amble around the deep woods of the Galaxy midfield in an attempt to find some meaning. He was hardly a disaster, although for $6 million you wonder what you should reasonably expect.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The MLS allocation rule set is strange, fundamentally hard to understand and needlessly convoluted. This is not news. But every time something happens to throw that back into the collective face of the league’s fans, it gets a mite harder to stomach.

This time, it’s over a player. A very good player, in fact. His name is Jeremy Ebobisse, and according to the Washington Post, he’s already signed with MLS.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Mukwelle Akale’s courtship with Spain’s Villarreal began humbly enough. The Minnesotan spent part of September 2014 on trial, impressed the club with his bevy of skills and then made the move official once he turned 18 the next January.

The diminutive attacking mighty mite became, on the spot, one of the select handful of U.S. YNT contributors in a La Liga development system. And he still is.

The last year and a half have been good to the fast improving Akale, 19, who’s risen up from the Juvenil A ranks to become a full-fledged member of the Villarreal C side playing in the Spanish Tercera this season. In the meantime, the U.S. U20 spent the preseason with the Villarreal first team, and Sunday was a relatively monumental day in that regard.

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Written by Will Parchman

there-was-disbelief-that-united-had-let-this-player-go-andrea-pirlo-waxes-lyrical-about-paul-pogba

In 2012, Manchester United let Paul Pogba pass out of the Mersey sluice gate with hardly a raised eyebrow of protest. Pogba was a world class prospect even then, at the age of 18, but Alex Ferguson was unwilling to treat with his agent and could not stomach the massive weekly wages he was asking.

So Pogba was allowed to cross borders unmolested into the grateful arms of Juventus that year for a middling fee. Pogba went on to become one of the world’s best midfielders before being sold back to Manchester United this summer for the GDP of Lichtenstein. In the interim, while Juve was building a roster that would come inches from a Champions League title, Manchester United fell off the relative map.

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Written by Will Parchman

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In some strange and almost unaccountable ways, fate brought Mauro Diaz and FC Dallas together. Or at least it would be easy to think so.

Diaz grew up in the vaunted River Plate system in Buenos Aires, surrounded by world class talent essentially being baked for someone else’s dinner table. River, like Boca Juniors down the road, trades off its highly prized youth players it sells to Europe for exorbitant sums that then fuel the academy and first team to produce more. For a time, Diaz was in that oven.

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Written by Will Parchman

Argentinian soccer is burning.

It burns and smolders and then burns again for a variety of systemic reasons, many of them coming to a head at the same time in largely the same places. Shackled by those bounds of reality, then, it was all too easy to write off the Argentinian U23 side’s embarrassing exit in the Olympic group stages this week. Even with all the might of a side that handily won the qualifying tournament, they carried the heavy stone cinders of their federation’s turmoil with them to Brazil.

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Written by Will Parchman

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This has been something of a charmed year for the FC Dallas organization from root to stem. On the academy level, FCD shockingly swept the U16 and U18 Development Academy titles in July, a feat that may not be equaled in millennia (maybe).

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