Re-Aligning the American Pyramid: Dominic Bisogno
One of the problems I see populating soccer in the United States is actually one specific to the lower league scene. That problem is the labeling of completely unrelated aspects of U.S. Soccer as the problem or part of it, a trend birthed by the strange need in our community to always have a new thing to complain about.
I’m not referring to the single entity discussion, promotion/relegation discussion, or any of the other big topics that are genuinely important issues we need to discuss. Perhaps the best example of what I’m talking about is the “the summer season is ruining US Soccer” crowd.
I see someone, often prominent #ProRel accounts, about once a month go off about how playing a summer season instead of a winter one has ruined US Soccer and has banished us from ever being taken seriously. I’ve seen the context of this criticism range from “people won’t take it seriously” to “it affects our players skills” or even “we can never expect clubs to want to trade with a team that doesn’t play in the global soccer cycle.” Here’s a few reasons why that’s silly.
Putting aside the fact that the summer schedule is partially needed due to the weather patterns of multiple portions of the United States, and therefore is nonnegotiable, there are actually many other nations that play a summer season and have found great success. In fact, the term “global soccer calendar” is more fluff than fact, as huge portions of the world do not use the winter season style suggested by that term.
Despite what you may have heard, the list of countries that play summer leagues includes Sweden, Norway, Japan, South Korea, Ireland, and Finland. Believe or not, even the Chilean Primera División and Brazilian Série A play Summer seasons, with playoffs running through the Fall.
In addition to the long list of footballing nations that have absolutely no issues playing the same Summer system as the US does at both the amateur and professional levels, there are many Latin American nations that play the Apertura/Clausura system, which includes two shorter seasons, one played in the Summer and the other in the Winter. While this does not directly connect to the winter season system, it does go to prove that playing a system other than the “global soccer calendar” has proven to not be a problem for the likes of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, and more. In fact, even Belgium has implemented a 2 halved season system for its second division as of the 2016-17 season, albeit not identical to the usual Apertura/Clausura method.
The Summer season makes it impossible for American players or clubs to make ends meet in the transfer market? Has it also been doing this to Brazil, Japan, or Sweden? With all three having countless players featuring across the world and a vast range of clubs represented in their national teams, I think not.
The Summer season innately weakens a federation’s ability to succeed internationally? Has it also been doing this to Brazil, Japan, or Sweden? With all three featuring in the recent World Cup and being dominant or notable forces in their continents’ respective tournaments (the Copa America, Asian Cup, and Euro), I think not.
I’ll cut to the chase. There’s a near endless list of things wrong with soccer in this country. It is this very fact that makes focusing on silly, and honestly easily disproven, aspects of the game here so strange. There are many reasons that the US struggles on the international stage, that its clubs struggle at the continental level, and that the transfer market is not always a positive place for Americans, especially those that start in the USL or MLS instead of leaving country early.
Those reasons range from, as I brought up earlier, aspects of the single entity nature of MLS, the lack of promotion/relegation, and certainly other issues that are beyond those not especially astute in the world of trading and dealing.
What are you to take from this article? Complaining about things that US Soccer has done well, like picking a system that allows the northern half of the nation to play, simply isn’t going to help anything. Instead, it allows those in power to say that the lower league world is a silly place in all the wrong ways and further ignore what we say.
Focus on the real problems, focus on the real struggles facing soccer in this country. Twitter is fun, complaining can be too, but don’t let that cause you to slip into the same trends that have left our little slice of the beautiful land we call “Soccer Twitter” a largely ignored and disrespected one.
- Dominic Bisogno