I'm not sold on the academy vs. college debate, but it seems MLS already is.
Matt Doyle, of mlssoccer.com fame, published his pro-academy take on the debate last week, Taylor Twellman said to Ian Darke during a recent broadcast that he thinks Jordan Morris needs to turn pro to fully develop his talent, and the league, in its latest display of affection for its favorite club, published this lengthy, interesting and well-written piece about the LA Galaxy academy.
I get it. Academies make sense on so many levels. Major
amateur collegiate athletics is all a money-making scheme for highly paid athletic departments built on the backs of really talented individuals who -- on the free market, as it is in the international soccer scene -- deserve lots of money for their performances on the field and court but, under the current system, don't receive any.
Terrible things happen, many of them to the detriment of the university, so that the NCAA and all of its member athletic departments can thrive on the hard earned money of the American sports fan. Everyone with a brain sees this, yet, for the most part, we continue embracing the status quo because we love sports so much. Academies eliminate the moral dilemma.
I just don't think the argument that academies develop talent better than the college system holds much water.
If the U.S. of A. can create the world's best players in a sport (basketball) that is played and taken seriously in both Europe and South America without any sort of academy system, then soccer can too. Just because the rest of the world does it one way does not mean another way can't work.
The reason the U.S. can't create a great soccer player in the mold of a Pele, Maradonna or Beckenbauer is because our best athletes aren't playing soccer. They didn't grow up with it.
Professional soccer is booming across the country in a way that it never has before. That's the kind of progress that can bring the level of our soccer along, and we don't have to change our sporting culture to achieve it. We just have to be patient.
Here are the internet's second-least biased MLS power rankings for this week:
1. New York Red Bulls (Last Week: 3)
2. Vancouver Whitecaps (Last Week: 2)
I'm not fully against the Caps' chances of winning MLS Cup this year, but I'm definitely not for them. They've been a great team all year, but I'm not sure it's their time to make it through the playoffs.
3. Columbus Crew SC (Last Week: 6)
This might be a little high considering New England's recent run, but Columbus is one of the scariest teams in the league. When they're on, they're really good.
4. FC Dallas (Last Week: 4)
There's no shame in losing to SKC on the road, especially on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Dallas will be fine.
5. New England Revolution (Last Week: 5)
That win over New York looks really nice compared to that turd the Revs dropped against Drogba and the Impact. However, prior to that loss, New England was the hottest team in the league and had the longest win streak (six games) of any team in the league this year.
6. Seattle Sounders (Last Week: 9)
This win felt like a statement from Seattle. They finally have their full compliment of attacking prowess back, and they just resoundingly beat rival Vancouver on the road, in a hostile environment. This was Seattle saying, "We're back."
7. LA Galaxy (Last Week: 1)
LA is still my pick to take home the hardware at the end of the playoffs, but this isn't a good. The Galaxy are winless in three while other teams are hitting their stride down the final stretch.
8. Sporting Kansas City (Last Week: 10)
9. Real Salt Lake (Last Week: 11)
Look at the old RSL coming back. The LA-RSL rivalry is a subplot that doesn't get enough attention from the national TV cameras.
10. Portland Timbers (Last Week: 7)
11. San Jose Earthquakes (Last Week: 8)
12. Toronto FC (Last Week: 15)
As Giovinco goes, so goes Toronto. The little Italian scored two for Toronto this weekend to end a month-long drought, which is the longest of his season.
13. Montreal Impact (Last Week: 17)
Who knows, maybe Didier Drogba can drag this team kicking and screaming all the way to the conference finals.
14. D.C. United (Last Week: 12)
I'm pretty tired of D.C. and, judging by their crowds, so are their fans.
Or maybe they just don't want a giant chunk of concrete to fall from the upper deck and hit them in the head. RFK Stadium: Don't Forget to Bring Your Helmet!
15. Orlando City (Last Week: 16)
"Learning to win" is the college football coaching cliche that applies to Orlando right now. Baby steps, kids.
16. New York City FC (Last Week: 19)
It makes me laugh how the communications department at the league always creates highlight packages for the foreign stars, like they used to do with Beckham all the time. They do it for views. A video of David Beckham scoring from a free kick would always get more views than every other video that week by an astronomical proportion.
17. Houston Dynamo (Last Week: 13)
Houston is falling apart. The Dynamics have won one game in six.
18. Colorado Rapids (Last Week: 14)
19. Philadelphia Union (Last Week: 19)
20. Chicago Fire (Last Week: 20)
Do you think being on a crappy team affect's Harry Shipp's USA chops in the eyes of Jurgen Klinsmann?