Guest Post from Jay Sorgi
It's a crazy conundrum, this failure of the United States Men's National Team, in a nation with approximately eight million men and boys who play the game, can't field a team that can get to the 2018 World Cup, let alone have a reasonable chance to win it.
We know and have debated on - ad nauseum, but with defeinite reason - every reason why the USMNT has failed, what needs to change about U.S. Soccer and how the almighty dollar can conflict with the mission of winning the world's biggest single team sport event. The fundamental issues, including entry and youth-level, must be solved.
But perhaps at the top, the size of America's military presence in one particular soccer-loving nation could be a tool to help the USMNT gain a major competitive advantage on every other football-playing nation.
The rub: You, the American soccer fans, could be the controller of the direction.
(I don't claim this to be the panacea of the USMNT's problems, nor do I claim to be anywhere near an expert on the sport. This idea is rather meant to be a conversation starter which the soccer community can reject or refine into more of what it should be.)
A majority American fan-owned club that climbs the ranks of the German soccer system and, if/when it reaches the Bundesliga Official, becomes as much of the USMNT as possible within federation rules and their German-born player requirements. In lower leagues, it could be used as a talent developmental tool for U-23 and younger American players.
The club would be based in the south central area of Germany where tens of thousands of American military personnel are stationed, close to Mannheim and Kaiserslautern where the USMNT and USWNT played numerous World Cup matches in 2006 and 2011.
This would allow a major international competitive advantage, as American players would be playing together in European competition (read: NOT MLS) on the same side 12 months out of the year in both club and national team matches, something rarely seen at the top levels.
The key to retaining top American talent would be, of course, money - making sure the top talent would not head to other top clubs. If Christian Pulisic would be on such a squad, but get big money offers from Liverpool (as reported recently), Barcelona or one of the other megaclubs, it would certainly be a battle to keep him or others like him within the club.
However, that wouldn't have to stop top American players from growing together, so long as there is enough capital on hand (read, corporate minority ownership or top sponsorship with deep pockets - very possible considering the American corporate climate) to keep them on the roster.
It could have the US Soccer coaching staff. It could have youth clubs set up both in America and Germany (to fulfill German federation requirements).
Most importantly: MLS doesn't have to own it. You would.
You, the American soccer fan - perhaps through American Outlaws - would set the direction of the club. The US Soccer team's in-season operations would not have rich-pocketed MLS ownership whose main goal is to make money and not have the best interest of American soccer necessarily top of mind.
It would be you. Millions of you running a big part of the show of the team America supports more than any other.
Would US Soccer (sorry about the upcoming baseball pun) play ball? Would they let a fan-owned club be a major developer of their national team?
Who knows. You probably have more insight on that than I would.
Again, this is meant to be a brainstorm to be developed, debated and either fine-tuned or jettisoned in the spirit of wanting the best for my country's most well-known national team worldwide, with the goal of not only returning to, but someday winning the World Cup.
With you, the fan, owning a greater percentage of the direction of it.
(Make sure you comment on this post on Jay's Facebook!)