|More from this guy|
Wynalda's a piece of work, and I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way. He's clearly smarting from whatever de facto blackballing of which he thinks he's been a victim, and lets fly with some of the usual condemnations of how American soccer thinks and operates. A bit of it is sour grapes. Some of it is not, and some of it is worth paying a little attention to.
If you go through your list of your five favorite players, those players are really good at one or two things. The reason they are your favorite players is that they’re different, they’re special. The reason you watch David Beckham is that he can cross the damn ball. In our country they probably would have said, "That’s pretty good with the right foot, now let’s try the left." That would have happened a long time ago and David Beckham would have been average with both feet. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to Diego Maradona. That would have been fun.
This statement is particularly intriguing, though I'm not quite sure what Wynalda is trying to say. Is the implication that well-rounded players (or in this case, two-footed players) are less desirable than players with one really good foot? That seems to be the case, though his use of Beckham as an example is flawed (and not just because Beckham is English); not only is Beckham's right foot one in a million, the Englishman's obsession with honing that ability has little to do with the system in which he matured. There certainly aren't scores of Beckhams running around England, better off because no coach cajoled them on occasion into using their left foot.
Wynalda has also pulled the "exception" card out of his deck. He played, was fairly good, and clearly understands how to coach young players in a way that the rest of America does not. The shot at the end about Maradona, implying that growing up here would have ruined him as a player, is a tip off that Wynalda has put himself outside of the American system mentally in addition to the physical move he's making to Murcielagos. It's certainly true that Maradona would not have been the same player had he grown up in the United States, but it's impossible to separate the player from his upbringing and culture; without Argentina, there is no Maradona. Maradona might not have turned out the same had he grown up in Brazil, Italy, Germany, or any number of countries much better at producing players than the United States. There might be plenty wrong with the way America teaches its soccer players to play, but what might have happened to Maradona has nothing to do with those issues.
But Wynalda's not wrong, he's just bitter. His reason for being bitter might be genuine, though it's still true that he hasn't made it easy for people to hire him. His comments on not understanding "this stigma attached to coaching of 'experience'" is fairly ridiculous. Playing and "pulling a lot of information" is a shout short of what's needed to organize, direct, and manage a group of individuals towards one common goal.
Wynalda's declaration of soccer in the United States being in a "state of stagnation", he's certainly entitled to his opinion. I find it hard to believe that stagnation has set in considering the newness of much of what this country is doing. MLS academies coming online and producing professional players certainly doesn't indicate stagnation. More Americans making their way to Europe doesn't indicate stagnation. The hiring of Claudio Reyna to direct US Soccer's technical youth program doesn't either. Perhaps Wynalda is focused on our results on the field at the senior level, a situation does does seem to indicate little movement forward; the problem with using the USMNT as a gauge is that so much of what happened in South Africa is down to luck (both good and bad), injuries, and factors that have little to do with how America is teaching its kids to play at this exact moment. Stagnation on the highest level does not indicate stagnation all the way down the system.
Wynalda wonders why we haven't "grown faster." I wonder what Wynalda thinks is an appropriate speed, and if he's being realistic in his expectations.
There are areas to be improved, and I'm always happy to have someone who has strong ideas and speaks their mind in the public domain. I may not completely agree with Wynalda, but I'm glad to have his thoughts to consider in this forum.
Perhaps Soccer America will check in with him periodically as he sets his sights on helping Murcielagos climb the Mexican soccer ladder.