By J.R. Eskilson
There is one saying that always gets me upset – I turn off my computer and take the dog for a long angry walk.
It usually goes: ‘The U.S. probably already found the next Messi, and now he is working as an accountant.’
I am not sure where it started, nor do I care.
The fact that people blindly believe this statement is true is what genuinely concerns me.
Do educated soccer followers actually believe a player of Messi’s ability just quit on the game?
There are obvious cracks in the structure of soccer in the United States, but a player of Messi’s quality isn’t exactly a sliver that could slip through that crack.
The honest truth is player development in this country has not reached the level capable of nurturing and instructing a world-class talent – even from the youngest ages.
Put your pitchforks away – I am not exclusively laying blame on any group.
This is a macro problem that is more the fault of the slow acceptance of the sport (and cultural differences) than anything else.
Consider this: Messi’s first youth academy, Newell Old Boy’s, was 93 years old when he joined the club. [Barcelona was 101 years old when he moved into La Masia.] The oldest MLS Academy is not even ten years old yet.
Over the course of those nine decades, Newell Old Boy’s had to pick up a thing or two about player development or the club would not have lasted long – not many clubs can survive without the selling of players for a profit.
There are so many complexities that go into developing players (especially players capable of reaching a world-class standard) and it takes highly trained coaches with years of experience to cultivate the talent.
It’s not quite as easy as just putting a ball on the field and hoping after enough time a player will turn into greatness.