The Colorado Rapids won a low-percentage game in which they were objectively poor last weekend. And Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni has feelings about this, notably about your perception that numbers are ever in a position to outweigh the heart.
It’s been nine years since Jozy Altidore packed all the hype American soccer could muster into a cluster of designer bags and moved from New York to Spain’s Mediterranean coast. In the time it’s taken the Earth to travel 4.6 billion miles since, no MLS player has ever come close to matching Altidore’s transfer market valuation.
When Altidore moved to Villarreal, he did so behind a reported $10 million transfer fee. It remains the largest lump sum ever paid MLS for one of its players by some margin. The closest is the $5 million Chelsea plunked down for Matt Miazga last year, but there’s been no scenario that even came close to challenging the heights of Altidore’s sale nearly a decade ago.
Orlando City’s Cyle Larin could – and should – be about to change that. And if he doesn’t beat it, then the Canadian phenom should come close.
Both teams needed a win entering Sunday’s win. The Red Bulls have struggled on the road in recent times; three points were a must at home. The Galaxy were coming off of a game in which their captain, Jelle Van Damme, was pulled within the first 40 minutes, and they sputtered to a 2-2 draw.
The Galaxy got the fast start that they needed.
Earnie Stewart opened up a soccer vein and bled. And this sentiment is what coated everything.
“What made me proudest of all was that I turned on the TV, I’m watching my old team (AZ Alkmaar), and they’re playing FC Twente. They started the game with five players that came out of the academy. The three substitutions that came in were academy players who came in for players that they bought. That’s eight academy players on the field, and they won the game in the last minute. It doesn’t say much, all of the crap that I took for having a plan and having a vision, but that game – and I’m not there anymore – those eight kids were out there. They’re really good. One is up for the Dutch national team. Another has gotten sold for millions. The others are competing for European soccer.
“That part makes me very proud. That’s why I sit here and can say to you, and I don’t want to sound corny or sound like the 76ers, but I have a passion and a burning desire and we’re going to get there. Hopefully soon those seats will be full. And people who come for winning and losing? If they’re only coming for that, I’m not going to promise it. If you come to see us win every game, don’t do it. You’re going to get disappointed.
“But if you come to watch our players roll up their sleeves, go out every day play within our vision, play in our system, and compete, we give those players chances. Everybody talks about DPs. Playing Derrick Jones and Josh Yaro, they are DPs for me. They don’t make DP money at all. They’re not even close. But they are gonna be DPs for us.”
If you want to provoke a college coach (and God help you if you do), tell them the game is irrelevant as a producer of professional talent. The reason for the ire? It isn’t true.
The men’s college path itself is a desperately imperfect stepstone, but it isn’t without its merits. For the most part, you can carve out maybe somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20 programs, depending on the year and the coaching staff, and identify them as legitimate launch pads for MLS or, as is more rarely the case, somewhere abroad. The facilities are top notch, the fields for the most part are as good (or better) than any in MLS and the coaching rivals any second or third tier. Among the country’s rotation of the best dozen or so programs, the best coaches are MLS ready today.
Every now and then you get the confluence of all those labors and hit the motherlode in a single game: two of the best coaches, a horde of the best players and each of them competing in one of the best environments. Turns out, 2015 was that year in the modern history of college soccer.
Ever curious how it goes on a typical day inside an MLS academy? We’ve brought you one from RSL, and another from the San Jose Earthquakes. Now it’s the East Coast’s turn. The Philadelphia Union have you covered.
Ever since the opening of the YSC Academy in 2013, the club’s been on a steady upward trajectory with its academy apparatus. Today, the Union are widely considered one of the top 7 or 8 academies in MLS, partly because of the investment and mostly because it’s promoting a healthy brand of soccer mixed with a real pipeline to the first team under new-ish GM Earnie Stewart. There aren’t a ton of academies outside the established Big Four of RSL, LAG, RBNY and FCD with more resources.
That’s largely the focus of Philly’s new 20-minute documentary detailing how it goes for players inside this academy setup. From kids from outside the area piling into host family houses to locals boarding the train each day, it takes a village.
It’s well worth your time, whether you’re an academy head or not. If you’re looking to build a successful club, these represent some important first steps on the journey there.
Ah, the eternal MLS salary dump. That time-honored tradition wherein we marvel at Kaka’s deal, puzzle over Brek Shea’s and try to work out how FC Dallas squeezes so much out of so little while D.C. United pulls so little out of… so little.
Everyone sees these numbers through their own kaleidoscopic lenses, and mine tends to skew toward the youths. And in particular, the Homegrowns. Just what are these young bucks getting paid these days? Today, I have answers.
In February, MLS announced a $200,000 cash infusion for MLS teams in part to help sign Homegrown players. It wasn’t exactly a cash dump, but it did represent a not insignificant hike that allowed MLS teams more leeway in how they approached contract negotiations with their own academy kids. Homegrowns will make less regardless by dint of their lack of professional gravitas, and the historic feebleness of the American youth production line also hits the contract. Ajax doles out heftier contracts to its youth players not only because they have the cash to do so, but because the academy’s success ups its player market value. MLS isn’t quite there yet.
Among MLS clubs at the 2017 Generation adidas Cup in Frisco, few acquitted themselves better than the rising Philadelphia Union academy. The Union have been beefing up their academy apparatus seemingly exponentially since opening the YSC Academy in 2013, and the recent addition of GM Earnie Stewart seemed to finally wed philosophy to reality.
Since then, the Union U16 and U18 Development Academy teams have annually been among the country’s best. They’ve already pushed out a U17 youth national teamer in Rayshaun McGann, a U20 youth national teamer in Auston Trusty and a bonafide Union first teamer in Derrick Jones. So it should perhaps not be such a surprise that the Union managed to win their group at the GA Cup’s Premier Division level (ostensibly the second tier) and earned a spot in the third-place game against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Without question, the jewel performance of that run came against Monterrey, toting as they were one of the most lauded academies in Mexico and the prohibitive favorites to win the group. In that sense, the Union-Monterrey matchup was always likely to decide which way the group fell, and as we already know, the Union won the head-to-head.
At least in the annals of the popular modern history of the fully professional game, in the days since photographs went from curled sepia-toned scraps of paper to filter-warmed Instagram posts, there has never been such a thing as a player-owner. Not really. It is somehow appropriate that Didier Drogba, a man of invested career incongruity (we’ll get to this in a minute, I promise), would be the one to fulfill those dreams with Phoenix Rising.
There has never been much about Didier Drogba’s career arc that resolved itself out of a granulated haze to me. He is a man of contradictions, and the best example I can think of arrived at the conclusion of his year at Marseille, the ostensible hinge point of his career.
Drogba’s is a sensitive soul, perhaps surprisingly so. His launchpad to Chelsea was a one-year stint at Olympique Marseille, where he scored 30 goals in all competitions. Chelsea’s transfer fee after that season — they offered about $1 million for every goal he scored that year — was too good for Marseille to ignore. When Drogba learned the club sold him entirely because they didn’t want to regret leaving that much money on the table, he broke down in tears sitting at his locker for a final time. He took the money and felt burdened by the exchange all at once.
When rumors spread that Drogba was flirting with a return to the club earlier this year, he was told in no uncertain terms by the club’s supporters to “return to China.” There is confusion everywhere.