Friday, January 17, 2014

I find this extraordinarily annoying.

Now, you all know I almost never directly refute something said by colleagues, but I am pretty steamed about this ESPN FC video on so many levels. First of all, Jozy Altidore has been at Sunderland (who everyone concedes have mostly been dreadful as a team) for half a season. Second of all, he has definitely shown flashes of being able to excel in the Prem. On top of that, he is 24, not over 30 like Dempsey. These situations have no great relation.

I am with Steve Nicol all the way; even discussing whether Altidore should pack it in after a few trying months because it is a new level challenge to search out a comfy-cozy place to dominate or chase dollars above all is extremely disconcerting. I also find it part of a pattern of how the striker and other players in Europe are discussed in general in our bubble. This is crazy talk, and it definitely would be giving up if he looked to leave now, let alone for MLS. Our bubble is way too reactionary, often ready for players to move as soon as they miss one or two starts. Is that what the 24-year-old Bradley did on the way to being the player he is now? Or the 24-year-old Dempsey, who came off the bench in 13 of his first 14 Fulham matches?

Reel it in, folks. Like the rest of life, player development is not microwave popcorn. Let the guy find his way and he will.

- Greg Seltzer


RobUsry said...

He's obviously not going anywhere this window. It all depends on how he does in Brazil IMO. If he does well and gets offers from better teams than Sunderland I could see him going. But if he doesn't and MLS comes in with a big offer I could see him jumping at it.

I don't see a long-term future at Sunderland for him. But that's just my opinion.

Greg Seltzer said...


Respectfully, I think you are all nuts.

RobUsry said...

Which part is the nuts part? Him considering MLS or him leaving Sunderland?

If it's the MLS part, I'm done trying to use logic. Money is the be-all-end-all apparently.

Greg Seltzer said...

Both, frankly. If every American was ready to turn tail and run home because they had six tough months, so many of the players we have hailed through the years would have suffered greatly. Of course, it is nuts out 24-year-old key player to run back to MLS now. There is no logic there in this case. And if everyone had been asked last summer if they were cool with Altidore wanting to go back to MLS because he had a tough time his first six months at Sunderland, nearly everyone would have barked at the suggestion.

As for what money is, says who? Altidore is not 30, not married with a family. I fail to see why he would just automatically jump for something somebody else jumped for.

justinwkoehn said...

I see Altidore staying in the top 5 leagues in Europe after this summer. He'd be crazy not to. At worst a Ligue 1 side would take a chance on him if Sunderland moves on. I agree with Greg...I don't see MLS in his immediate future.

Jon said...

It's funny Greg, I completely agree with you, but it's shocking how many MLS fans after Bradley's move are taking the stance that, you only have so long to set yourself up financially and pro sports careers are short, so chasing money and a payday is the smart thing to do and should even be encouraged.

One MLS fan after another is ignoring the level of play in MLS and think it's great Bradley set himself up financially for life. I'd assume they'd feel the same way for Jozy. What's surprising to me is in other sports if a player chases money of competition, they're blasted for it. MLS fans however are increasingly congratulating our players for chasing paydays over competition.

It's also getting quite annoying the common opinion that a league outside the top 15 is a fine level for our best players. We're not talking the average to above average American player who can help raise the MLS level of quality but that our absolute best should see no issues with playing in a league outside the top 15. When I say our top players playing in MLS is no different than them migrating to Norway or Sweden or the Championship level, no one really has a response other to day that it's great for the growth of the game. I call BS. Having our best playing in top leagues gives a higher goal to aim for and sets the bar higher.

What also amusing Greg is the people who don't want a Bradley or Jozy in MLS are labelled as eurosnobs and having an inferiority complex. I'd strongly argue it's a repeated inferiority complex among any MLS fans which causes them to build MLS up to something its not and constantly tell everyone that it's a fine level to play at.

There's a reason Ibra doesn't play in Sweden, why Berbatov doesn't play in Bulgaria, why Messi doesn't play in Argentina, why Kagawa doesn't play in Asia. If guys like Clint or Bradley or Jozy chased money in China or the UAE would they be congratulated? I think not, and therein lies the hypocrisy.

It's just odd to see how many MLS fans think chasing paydays at 26 for Bradley and 24 for Jozy while playing at lower levels is a good thing. MLS fans in general have a complex about them I've never seen among any other footy fans or sports fans in general.

Jon said...

Oh, I'm also sick of hearing how because Landon did fine playing all these years in MLS that it's the fine route to take.

Landon is our exception. His development was a mistake until we can come close to doing it again. We've shown zero ability to replicate his development.

It also ignores that Landon likely could have been better if he gutted it out in Europe.

But the Landon excuse gets thrown around repeatedly. How is MLS a poor level for our best if it was fine for Landon? Well, produce a few more Landons and they might have a point.

Unfortunately the large majority of players who stay in MLS and are developed here have the technical ability of a League Two player and the tactical nuance of the average New Zealand professional.

dikranovich said...

jon, what if you are wrong?

Tony M said...

"If every American was ready to turn tail and run home because they had six tough months..."

We would have lost World War II

Okay, so that was off topic.

Tom said...

"If every American was ready to turn tail and run home because they had six tough months..."

We would have lost World War II

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!

UnitedDemon said...

I agree with Jon. Literally every point.

A few more points.

I've gotten over the emotional aspect of Bradley making his decision, and now have come to the question of how this should affect players like Jozy. Dempsey and Bradley might not have taken those money deals if they didn't feel that they had come as close to starting for a Champions league team as they were going to get- Dempsey saw Tottenham wasn't going there, and both of them questioned whether they would start in the future. It affected their decision.

If MLS is willing to pay our American stars millions to come back, to not struggle, then that becomes a problem. In that case, we're relying on total ambition from our players, and the refusal of millions, to carry them forward. If Jozy scorns that, he just became my favorite National Team player.

Then there's the mess with Edu not being valued at 1.2 million, when he certainly performed evenly with Bradley and Dempsey in 2010, and just got screwed twice in quick succession (Rangers falling apart and Stoke not giving him a sniff). And he's a player we actually want coming back and regaining his form! MLS wants to gain legitimacy, but they're starting to hurt the structure (US Soccer) that they still are only a part of.

Tony M said...

For you kids playing at home, Tom was quoting Animal House.

That's an old timey movie that celebrate an age when bad behavior was engaged in face-to-face rather than via social media!

I need to post about soccer soon or I will get banned...

Jesse said...

Its not like Jozy Altidore has been benched with no hope of leaving it. He's still playing key minutes for the club, albeit as a substitute. If Sunderland avoid relegation this season Jozy is going to be one of the reasons why.

Jon said...

@dikranovich, what would I be wrong about?

I'd also ask, as with any business model and investment, weigh the odds. Is it more likely I am right or not? Is it more likely for example, the 80M given to Defoe/Bradley would have more of an impact on the league and American player if pumped into academies/coaching/scouting than being thrown at two players?

Given the league only pays 20M league wide for development/academies annually, I'd argue yes, clearly, from an investment point of view.

Could Defoe/Bradley do more for the growth of the game than investing the money elsewhere as I suggested. Anything is possible, but whether it's a 5%, 10% or 20% chance, it's a huge gamble and not efficient.

Likewise, will continuing to pump tens of millions into returning NTers have the same effect as pumping that tens of millions into development/academies/reserves, which should be the backbone of the league? Again, I'd argue no and while it's a gamble, most wouldn't take that gamble and would instead lean towards more of the sure thing.

Greg Seltzer said...

Maybe it is because of my Cardinals upbringing, but I always think you have to let most younger players or players moving up a weight class play through the struggle. That is how they grow and improve, same as with most any job anywhere. As I said, the main problem I had with him while the team was a mess was that he was still trying to play like he is with AZ or the Nats. He has to figure out the new program.

soccer boy said...

Do you think hesky is the right comparison for jozy?

dikranovich said...

jon, lets go point for point here. Sweden and Bulgaria, are two leagues in Europe and they are feeder leagues for the bigger leagues in europe, and in Bulgaria, teams feed the two big teams in sofia.

MLS can be a feeder league and it can be a league that brings in its own top talent. USA is in the position of being able to have it both ways.

jon, the question you should be asking, is how much talent is being exported out of our domestic soccer leagues today as compared to ten years ago. then the next question you should ask is, where are we going to be ten years from now.

this does lead to youth development and another of the points you try to make. is throwing money at youth development the answer? or is the answer developing a program which produces talent. I mean, if money was the answer with youth development, shouldn't we have produced a pele by now? maybe money is not the answer with regards to youth development in our country, maybe it has more to do with a proper education, from top to the bottom.

my opinion on the Bradley deal is that it is going to set the bar for the valuation of American players in the future. not for nothing, but what if Bradley crushes it this summer in brasil, what would that do for his value?

history shows that a strong domestic leagues goes hand in hand with a strong showing at the world cup.

dikranovich said...

another point in all of this that should not be over looked, is along with this summer, we have the Olympics in 16, that's in brasil, we have a copa America coming up, that's in America.

USA and MLS need to put the focus into winning events that are in our region, or events that we can actually enter. we need to win the concacaf champions league, and when I say we, I mean dc united, or any other MLS team. but preferably dc united.

we need to get teams into copa sud America and we need to do well, and we should be pushing to get into copa liberatadores, and I think a successful copa America would help with that.

the competition for the near future is here in the Americas, it aint over in the old world, please keep that in mind when you try and make your points.

dikranovich said...

jon, im not sure if you are aware of this, but three of the top ten leagues in the world hail from the Americas, they being brasil, argentina, and liga mx, another four more, also from the Americas are also in the top twenty.

please, for the love of god..... please try and explain to me why our focus should not be here???

Brooks Staley said...

I love that ESPN sells the Premier League as the best league in the world. It quite clearly is not. I agree that Jozy should continue to fight for a place in the Sunderland 11, but ultimately I think his development would be far better on a Ligue 1 or Bundesliga side. His game thrives in a slightly slower, more possession passing style and I'd rather have him learning from experience in Germany than in a country whose national style falls consistently short when they try to apply it at a national team level.

justinwkoehn said...

Another terrible showing for Jozy today. He's supposed to be big and strong, but goes to ground easier than anyone else on the team. It's getting ridiculous. He drew the PK last week not because of his dive, but because he was actually fouled.

heythisisrobbie said...

Yeah, he was pretty awful today. I hope Sunderland sell low on him, mostly for my sake. I am so sick of watching them.

soccer boy said...

Epl is not the best leauge in the world. It's a showcase leauge for all the best talent tto show their skills. Yeah you have a bunch of dogs at the bottom half of the leauge but what leauge doesn't have bottom feeders?