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Sunday Cup-o-American soccer: MLS preview and USMNT analysis

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MLS: FC Cincinnati at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

MLS. Is. Back. It’s super duper back this time. We do a weekly look at Americans in MLS and that’ll happen Tuesday as usual, but I also wanted to also check in on some other things about the league.

First, I promised an MLS preview in the headline and I already wrote it on Dirty South Soccer, the MLS team website I also write at. Since I am an unabashed MLS shill and MLS hating Eurosnob I naturally write for a site that covers an MLS team that considers itself superior to MLS. Here is my brilliant analysis of the league, I’m an octopus just like the other soccer octopi that analyze soccer, but we just have fewer brains, hearts, limbs, and different color blood. It’s a really good preview.

As I mentioned in my preview, MLS is the uncool ska band of soccer, it might not be for you but if it is you can’t wait for the trumpet solo and goofy lyrics about how girls don’t like you. I’ve said before that it’s the best worst league in the world, and it lives up to that billing. Oddly though, it’s also getting better. So it might now be the best worst improving league in the world. There’s still a host of anonymous college graduates trying to not get embarrassed by Carlos Vela, but Ben Olsen is gone now and the era of coaches sticking around for a half decade or longer because of ownership indifference might be coming to an end (except for the Mountain West).

Meanwhile, the really good and really fun part of the league in the past two seasons has been the emergence of talented American soccer teenagers who don’t go to college because they want their job to be soccer player and not financial advisor. This is sort of the promised trajectory of MLS - the league would develop American players. That didn’t happen for a long time, too long, but now is in full swing. Even hopeless teams like Vancouver have managed to do this, though with a Canadian but if the Whitecaps can do it then San Jose really has no excuse.

For better or worse, the fate of the USMNT is tied to the MLS academy system. Not every 16 year old can get a European passport and not every kid wants to stay with their non-MLS academy until they turn 18 and sign with Werder Bremen. The age for moving to Europe at 18 is being lowered, but not every player will want to move to a different continent. This fact does not change that MLS and SUM exercise undue influence on, and profit massively from, the US Soccer Federation and have managed to exert what is effectively regulatory capture on what should be its governing body. It doesn’t change that the league doesn’t have promotion and relegation despite it being something that would probably make soccer in the US better or at least more fun. In an incredible turn of events, both Matt Doyle and Ben Fast can be right about the same thing at the same time to different degrees. What a bizarre and uncertain world we live in.

So there, that’s my MLS analysis. It’s a pretty fun league, if you’re looking for Parasite you aren’t going to find it here, but if you’re looking for Fast and Furious IX this is the place for you, and you don’t have to wake up at 4 am because you’ve staked your entire identity on what Fulham is doing.

Quick programming note: SCOAS is going on paternity leave for however long it takes for life to get back to less than complete chaos but might show up sporadically when there’s slightly less chaos and slightly more sleep sometimes.