Ahead of tomorrow night’s MLS Cup in Toronto, I had a chance to speak with U.S. national team legend and FOX Sports studio analyst Eric Wynalda about the match and his thoughts on the state of soccer in the U.S.
When asked about where Major League Soccer stands today and where it is headed, Wynalda said:
“If I’m truly being honest about where we are right now and how far we’ve come, there’s a lot of things to be extremely happy about. If you would have said 20 years ago, we’d be looking at the possibility of having 28 teams with wonderful multi-million dollar soccer-specific stadiums, no one in the league would have thought that.”
He then discussed the recent coaching change for the U.S. men’s national team and Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge.
“But now, we’re at a really crucial point. Not to sound like gloom and doom, we just went through a very unique process. I don’t think a lot of people have really touched on this. Jurgen Klinsmann was given the reins to the US Soccer Federation. There was a lot of onus put on him to be in charge of the development of the game, the development of players and of the philosophy. Now, we can argue whether that was helpful, not making the Olympics, some of the lack of success at the highest level, how many players have come through the system. We can say this is good, this is bad.
My question is, ‘Where are the coaches?’ We just went through a process where we lost our national team coach and there was nobody to replace him. The problem with that is Jurgen Klinsmann’s job should have been, as far as the educational process, to make the coaching better at the Major League Soccer level. To connect with those guys, to be on the same page with those guys. That disconnect is something we’re really feeling now.
Going back to Bruce, this is not a step backward, it’s not a step forward, it’s a step sideways. It’s a comfort zone that I think was necessary because I think we’ve done a horrible job of figuring out who the next wave of coaches are.”
I agreed, saying I don’t know where the next wave of coaches are either. Wynalda said:
“The fact that we are saying, ‘I don’t know,’ after five years is a problem.”
How can U.S. Soccer change this and foster more development of coaches in this country? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks to Eric for taking the time out of a busy schedule today to speak with me. Thanks as well to Claudia Martinez of FOX Sports for arranging the interview.