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Toxic Talk: Facts Are Facts Edition

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Welcome to Toxic Talk, where our resident hater tells you what sucks about soccer this week.

Monterrey v Toluca - Torneo Apertura 2017 Liga MX Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Sadly, the worst part of Sunday’s soccer game (and I’m being as charitable as possible in my terminology by calling that a game) was not any of the running around that happened on the field. It occurred during half time, when John Strong and Stuart Holden decided that this was the time to discuss the Jonathan Gonzalez situation and the different sides of the story that have been presented by different outlets.

I have nothing against Strong or Holden. I think they are pretty good at their jobs. And there is nuance in Holden’s opinion that I think has merit. But Jonathan Gonzalez was a promising player in the U.S. youth system, and he switched to play for Mexico. That is, by definition, slipping through the cracks.

Maybe those were wonderfully-written emails that invited Gonzalez to play for the U-17 national team. He still slipped through the cracks.

Maybe this was more of a result of the U.S. simply not qualifying for the World Cup and Mexico succeeding in that regard, and the prospect of a World Cup roster spot appealed to Gonzalez. He still slipped through the cracks.

No amount of hand-wringing or compartmentalization changes the fact that U.S. Soccer screwed this up. They screwed this up when they didn’t qualify for the World Cup. They screwed it up when they were sure of Gonzalez’s comfort within their system. And they monumentally, catastrophically screwed up if, as reports suggest, they had no idea Mexico was in the running for his services.

That’s actually the funniest part of this whole thing to me. U.S. Soccer would go nuts if an alpaca moved to the United States as a child and happened to be able to kick a ball; did we really believe Mexico wouldn’t pursue a Liga MX Best XI player with Mexican heritage and no competitive international appearances? It’s an excuse that boggles the mind.

Holden is correct that we need to have a broader discussion on youth development and U.S. Soccer’s reach into under-served communities, and maybe, at the end of the day, Gonzalez just really wanted to play for Mexico. That’s fine. But regardless of the finger-pointing brigade trying to pin the situation on one thing, the facts still indicate one thing: Jonathan Gonzalez was a U.S. soccer player. And he slipped through the cracks.

Boiling Points

Mixed Metaphors -

How do you develop

as a 27 year old?

Pep dreams, Manchester,

really nice scarves.

I don’t know

what I’m doing here.

  • To the “One Failure Does Not Mean We Should Burn It All Down” Crowd -

The U.S. has now managed, in the last decade, to miss the 2011 U-20 Men’s World Cup, the 2013 U-17 Men’s World Cup, the 2012 and 2016 Men’s Olympics tournaments, the 2016 Women’s medal round for the first time ever, and lost the women’s U-20 CONCACAF title for the first time in a decade, amongst other failings. So, there’s that.

  • Zlatan -

If this gets done, the LA Galaxy in the last two weeks will have managed to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ola Kamara, and get rid of Gyasi Zardes. That might be the best soccering they’ve done since Robbie Keane retired.

  • Shipping Out From Boston -

It ended not with a band, but with whimper for the Boston Breakers, as the founding NWSL member announced this week it was shutting its doors. Yet another disappointment for Boston fans, who never got to see the team in the NWSL playoffs in their four seasons of NWSL play. New ownership groups appear to be interested in bringing more teams to the NWSL as early as 2019, but that appears to be all she wrote for Boston.

  • When Ngyuenning Becomes Losing -

More drama in New England on the men’s side of things, as Lee Nguyen has still yet to report to Revs training as he holds out for a transfer.

New England playing hardball with Nguyen is a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s impossible to deny he’s done more for the club over the last several years than the vast majority of their players, being their primary offensive creator and finishing third in MVP voting after the 2014 MLS season. And, as Paul Tenorio notes, he was still only the seventh-highest paid player on the Revolution’s payroll last season. New England already didn’t have a wonderful reputation around MLS; this isn’t going to help.

  • Aston Villa Win the Internet -

Trolls of the week. Hat tip to Leeds United for creating a crest so bad that actual politicians got involved and the club started rolling back their decision within a week.

  • More #MagicoftheCup -

Manchester City vs. Cardiff City. Magical.

Nothing but mystical, pure football, mate.

The Beautiful Game.