Paging Gianni Infantino

About a year ago the state of the US Soccer Pyramid consumed me. At that time I really thought that the NASL was on the way out due to the lack of a national footprint, MLS moving in on possible markets, and the development of USL as a feeder league for MLS. The NASL is still fighting the good fight bringing San Francisco into the fold and maintaining a Midwest presence with Rayo OKC. Time will tell if the league survives.

Recently the lower tiers of US Soccer and the ever present #ProRelforUSA conversations have been bubbling up in my twitter feeds. I started reading the American Pyramid blog and I was introduced to dozens of clubs/groups looking to fill a need, which is one of player development and local support. So I had American Pyramid creator John Pannebaker on the SoccerNomad podcast and one item he focused on was building critical mass at the lower levels. The day after I edited a rough cut of our conversation, I came across an article by Denis Crowley who started Stockade FC. Several times he mentioned the idea of “If something doesn’t exist, create it”, which is similar to what John said on the podcast.

The something is pro rel. It doesn’t exist in the US, at least not yet. Thanks to FIFA’s exemption and the powers that be at USSF and MLS, a concept that is used around the world (except in Australia) is non-existent in the US. But what if the lower leagues said, we’ll just do it, show how it’s done, build critical mass and change things? Might be a pipe dream but you never know.

These recent conversations and articles were reasoned and passionate with a real desire for a change that will benefit everyone from the clubs to the players to the supporters. The tone was in contrast to a lot of the chatter on social media demanding change. All of these things made me ask myself, Do we want Pro/Rel or do we want to yell about something or do we want to be like the rest of the soccer world?

I’m not against Pro/Rel. Don’t necessarily think it will be the magic bullet but it could help. Again the US has no frame of reference and the moneyed interests at the higher levels, especially in MLS, have no interest in changing. Only way this changes is if FIFA changes their special exception and then wins the ensuing legal battle.  No way these owners give up their fiefdom with a fight.

If people need something to yell at, I’m all for that. If you need a topic other than Pro/Rel, might I suggest fixing roads, improving the quality and decision making of drivers and improving customer service at fast food establishments? If you need more, I’ve got a whole list.

In terms of being like the rest of the world, we are America. We are the world. If we want to be like the rest of the world, does that mean #SingleTable and #LeagueNotPlayoff and #InternationalBreak? And does that mean we start petitioning FIBA and whoever is in charge of American Football worldwide and the World Baseball Softball Confederation and the International Ice Hockey Federation so that my local team can progress to the highest level? Who is the Ted Westervelt for those sports?

Again I’m for Pro/Rel but I’m tired of being yelled at by the most ardent supporters. Also I have enough in my life to complain about so I don’t need to add screaming at FIFA/USSF/MLS to the list. And finally I want to know how far people are willing to go to emulate the rest of world soccer. Whoever you are, carry on, but I’m going to keep going to games, having a beer or seven and enjoying myself.

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