USMNT: Should USA Soccer Make MLS Participation a Prerequisite to a Call-Up?

Jake LittleContributor IIIMarch 21, 2013

Clint Dempsey is one of many Americans that has made the move to Europe.
Clint Dempsey is one of many Americans that has made the move to Europe.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Less than 42 percent of the most recent United States Men's National team roster plays in the MLS. That is a staggering number.

Compare it to the level that American soccer fans want the MLS to achieve. Fans want, and believe, that this league can be among the top in the world.

The England National team has one player that doesn't play in the Premier League. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster plays for Celtic in Scotland.

In the 2010 World Cup Final Spain fielded a starting XI that consisted of 100 percent La Liga players.

Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is the only player on the current Italian National Team to play outside of his homeland.

Now think of American players. Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard are all out injured. They all play abroad. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Brek Shea, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu are all playing in Europe.

Most players in the United States national team play in different leagues. This means they hardly, if ever, player each other. Furthermore, each league has its own style of play.

Should the United States implement a system in which national team eligibility is dependent on playing in the MLS? In other words, if you play abroad, you're not going to be called up to play for your country.

It is an interesting question. Think of how much Major League Soccer would benefit.

All of the superb American talent that is currently helping the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Stoke City, would be brought home to play in front of their domestic fans.

Even better would be the fact that players would be much more familiar with each other. They would play each other regularly, and they would play in the same league.

Familiarity and chemistry are invaluable to national teams. No International team competes at a high level without having tremendous chemistry between the players.

Players would hate the rule at first. And with good reason. Clint Dempsey would have to take a pay cut and play against poorer talent than he does currently.

But if USA Soccer decided that this was the new policy and there were no exceptions, what could we realistically expect?

Well, some players would protest the rule by remaining in Europe and hoping that the US Soccer Federation comes crawling back.

When it doesn't they will either un-patriotically remain abroad, or return to the MLS. This gesture alone would be a great demonstration of commitment to the national team.

The unifying factor of this decision would be easy to underestimate. Players all in the same MLS boat, making similar MLS salaries and playing in front of similar MLS crowds.

As far as the league is concerned, they should be pushing and shoving to get this idea passed. They would have homegrown top talent.

The competitiveness of the league would increase dramatically. Attendance would increase because more people would want to see their national team players in action.

Granted, the MLS operates on a completely different schedule than European leagues do. So this isn't an easy thing to implement.

Furthermore, I have not come across this idea anywhere in the media. No one is suggesting that this is going to happen.

But during this International break it is interesting food for thought. And so I will ask you all the same question I've been pondering the last few days.

Should the US national team make MLS participation a prerequisite to being called up for International duty?


Jake Little is an LA Galaxy season ticket holder. He can be found on twitter @jakelittle.