How US Soccer Could Learn From the Socceroos
In the past month Barcelona, Real Madrid, and a host of European football teams have crossed the pond to play some warm-up friendlies against their U.S. counterparts. While these teams have begun their tour, the stadiums have been full, and the buzz of proper competition has taken the fans imagination.
But with United States soccer only being able to draw in the international squads in the summer months, and forced to face CONCACAF countries that offer little competition (with the exception of Mexico of course), the truth is, the US talent will be unable to develop at the rate of a country from Europe, South America, or even Asia.
But the United States is locked in its regional federation and has no way out right?
Ten years ago Australia soccer was locked in the Oceania football federation, and was lagging behind its international counterparts after continually beating up on nations such as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, and Fiji.
In 2006, with the help of FIFA, Australia was accepted into the Asia conference and now able to compete as higher ranking teams such as Japan and South Korea.
Not only were the Aussies allowed to compete in World Cup qualifying with stiffer competition, they were given entry into the Asian Cup, a tournament where they would be able to compete against the best nations in Asia, and see how they rank.The Socceroos were able to get their national squad into the better international competition, but that's not the only perk the Aussies were getting.
Thanks to joining the Asian Football Confederation, the country's A-League champion was invited to compete in the AFC's Champions League against the top club squads around Asia. While they have only been involved in three Champions League tournaments, the A League has been described as the league with the most potential in the upcoming decade.
Which brings us all the way back to the US soccer federation. What if the federation could strike a deal with UEFA and join the European federation? Instantly they would be able to compete against the best teams in the world. The national team would face stiffer competition and have to bear down and play hard every game to qualify for World Cups.
The MLS would finally be a threat to steal REAL talent from Euro squads, as the league would be able to send club teams to the Europa Cup and Champions League tournament. While the teams would have trouble getting through the first few rounds of these tournaments in the beginning, with added money and exposure, the teams could afford football superstars from English, Italian and Spanish leagues and threaten to become the biggest league in the world. Fans would be able to rally around their local team more, and have recognizable superstars to market the team around.
There are some issues with this however. What happens to CONCACAF after the US leaves?
Simple, combine the federation with the South American Football Federation (CONMEBOL). Think about it, the South Americans only have 10 nations in its federation yet are allotted 4.5 World Cup. In comparison, CONCACAF has 35 nations in its ranks yet is allotted only 3.5 spots.
Why not give the Europeans an extra qualifying spot, and have both Americas compete in an unified conference for the seven World cup Qualifiers.
While the Europeans would rather not have more of America taking over their cultures. Think of the added finances which would come from the world's economic machine. However in all honestly I would say the probability of this occurring would be slim-to-none. However FIFA could always intervene, as the federation understands how important cash is.
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