A New Model for the US WNT and National Team Soccer in the USA

It has become clear in recent World Cups that merely gathering the best players produced by a nation (or induced and given citizenship) is not a clear way to maximize performance on the National Team level. Those joining the national team must quickly learn to play together, learn each others preferred methods, and areas on the field. This can be difficult to master in a few weeks of prep time.

The advantage goes to countries where a significant portion of the national team comes from only a few teams. This allows much of the ‘teamwork’ to have been figured out during the club season. It also allows players to be on ‘better’ teams. This means that some of the games during the season will be ‘easy’. The congested club schedule with too many tough games has been blamed for the high injury rate and exhaustion of English players from the Premier League. By playing easier games those players are less likely to be burnt out or injured when it becomes time for national team duty. Many of these points are brought out in the book ‘Soccernomics’.

The Spanish men are a prime example with most NT players coming from two clubs and playing similar styles. This can be expensive to implement on the club level in the men’s game and national team programs don’t usually have the money to help in countries with established professional soccer. Although the MLS is basically a single entity, it is still supported by the national team program and not particularly, if at all, profitable. My ideas could extend to the US MNT as well.

In the WWC France had an increase in the number of skilled players AND had a significant portion of the team came from a single club (9 players). This was a significant help to the French NT and help them do better than their talent would suggest. Their club team, Lyon, also had success as Champion’s League winners in women’s soccer. I understand that the women’s game in Europe will probably emulate the men’s game with clubs developing female players individually. However in the USA the WPS is a single entity, sort of (what’s up with the Miami magicjack team?).

How about making the WPS into a WNT feeder system?

Take the current roster from the WNT and split it into two teams. An East Coast team and  West Coast team. Additional players would be added to fill out the rosters. This leaves all the other players in the league to be split between the other teams, which will allow for developing AND recognizing more talent.

This will allow for WNT players to play with each other, similarly to Spain (men) and France (women), and accrue those advantages mentioned earlier in the post. The pressure will still be there because they are expected, now, to win the league. The other teams will be targeting them.

Currently, the WNT players are the better players on their teams. When evaluating it is easier to find the best players than to find the 3rd and 4th best. By removing WNT players from the equation new stars will not only emerge, but be able to be recognized and be forced to become leaders on their teams. This will provide a larger player pool to invite for national team camps, which in turn helps solve the issue of capable back ups that seemed to flair up at this WWC.

An additional suggestion that does not need to happen, but would increase interest is that this could be taken a step further in the WPS because a number of other countries don’t have established club programs in their countries. How about designating a team to be ‘Brazilian’, so if there are six Brazilians in the league they are on the same team. Mexico, Canada, and Japan should have, perhaps two each, designated teams as well. The remaining players on those teams will most likely come from the American college system and be from the USA, although New Zealand, Australia, and other countries also have provided some players to the WPS. Instead of Women’s Professional Soccer it could be World Professional Soccer?

If the MLS did this (already have a Mexican team, Chivas) they could have more CONCACAF based countries as teams.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 16:13 and is filed under Professional Soccer, Program Management, Soccer Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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