How Are American Players Doing On The World Stage?
This has been a world interrupted by the global COVID pandemic but international soccer is getting back on track and American players are looking better.
When Gregg Berhalter‘s U.S. Soccer Men’s National team was forced to confront scheduling changes and cancelations courtesy of the pandemic, time became a benefit. With creative players like Christian Pulisic and now Giovanni Reyna‘s strong breakthrough into the limelight, America can claim more talent than in recent years. Add to this starting lineup the impressive skills of players who have trained abroad, and in particular in Germany and the possibilities on the roster improve.
Who is making their mark abroad? Think of Schalke 04 trained and American born Weston McKennie‘ who is doing well in his first season at Juventus, and Matthew Hoppe who sprung into his starring role in the Bundesliga with a hat-trick. Hoppe is a youth soccer product of Southern California and Arizona’s Barca Academy’s Residential program … and there are others. For example, holding both an American and German passport, Creighton Braun who also trained at youth soccer clubs in Southern California before going to International Soccer Academy in Spain also signed last year with a pro club FC DAC 1904.
Now there are distinctive rays of sunlight streaming on our USA soccer players.
In addition to other striker powers, California born and trained at LA Galaxy’s youth academy Gyasi Zardes displayed his goal scoring talents wearing the Columbus Crew SC kit, helping the club win 2020 MLS Cup last year.
The future for American players is brighter than before even in the MLS: Gianluca Cristiano Busio from Sporting Kansas City, Frankie Amaya from FC Cincinnati, James Sands from New York City FC, Jeizon Ramirez of Real Salt Lake … all are poised to continue making their mark on the pitch.
And, are the pro clubs looking at young soccer talent? The simple answer is yes … just think about LA Galaxy‘s Efraín Álvarez who was only 16-year-old and is the seventh-youngest player to sign in the MLS.
In 2020, Sporting Kansas City signed 18-year-old goalkeeper John Pulskamp, another California grown player, as a Homegrown. Sporting also signed 19-year-old Wilson Harris, USL Championship Young Player of the Year in 2020. And, there were several more signings including Atlanta United‘s bringing on they academy product Machop Chol as a Homegrown Player in mid-January, 2021. Plus there are young player signings in the USA pro leagues USL Championship and NISA as well.
How are the MLS Academies doing so far? Developing players than can earn USMNT caps takes more than scouting and a year or two of training, it takes years of intelligent work.
According to many experts, FC Dallas‘ academy sets the platinum standard for player develpoment. With FC Dallas’ Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez roots squarely established while running the academy, there is a uniformity and streamlined player development process that exists uniquely at this MLS club.
The Philadelphia Union, New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City also all deserve recognition for their dedicated efforts as well bringing up the next generation of superstars.
Will America’s soccer players be ready for the World Cup showdown when we host the games in 2026?
As city leaders and officials from around the USA meet with FIFA, and U.S. Soccer representatives to bring the World Cup 2026 games to their stadiums, the adventure builds. Not only whether or not Philadelphia or Washington, DC will get to host games but who will be on the field representing the Red White and Blue?
Is it too early to tell if America is now on a sustainable path to providing its astute capabilities on the pitch when taking on international competition?
Only time will tell, but at least we have started down the road to success. Whether players are trained at private youth soccer clubs, MLS academies or abroad learning from the masters of the game, this is an exciting time for youth soccer players with big dreams emerging from the shadows and searching to make an impact.