Yesterday, Norwich City completed an impressive comeback due in part to goals from loanee Kei Kamara and the ageless Grant Holt. The Canaries picked up Kamara in the January transfer window from Major League Soccer side Sporting KC with an option to bring him on permanently at the end of the season.
However, that’s not what I’m going to discuss. If you were to look at ESPN FC’s front page following yesterday’s round of football you would have seen the headline: Sporting KC’s Kei Kamara powers Norwich City to comeback win over Everton or something to that effect.
As a disclaimer, I must say that I love when American players go overseas and do well. (Kamara is from Sierra Leone but his family immigrated to the United States when he was 16.) Though not often spoken of, I enjoy knowing that Jozy Altidore is one of the top scorers in the Eredivisie with AZ Alkmaar. I like that Jermaine Jones is a key cog for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga. I can’t wait for Brek Shea to get his chance with Stoke City.
All that said, a win for American players overseas should not be celebrated like a World Cup win for the country nor a victory for Major League Soccer.
Rarely in the United States do we see Tottenham’s scores scroll across the screen on ESPN, but when Clint Dempsey plays they talk about it whether he scored or not. Kamara was referred to as Sporting KC’s player instead of Norwich City’s. The fact that the aforementioned Shea was left out of FC Dallas’ side on more than a few occasions for bust ups with manager Schellas Hyndman was forgotten when he became another American making his way across the pond.
We as Americans need to realize we are behind the curb in the footballing world. That fact is made painfully obvious when we celebrate Dempsey being subbed on in the 75th minute in some League Cup tie.
Major League Soccer is the current retirement home for European footballers. Nigel Reo-Coker, 28, is one of the youngest European players to sign on with an MLS side in some time. While Americans are busying watching Dempsey and Landon Donovan’s every move, Europeans are busying laughing at the MLS for signing players who should have hung it up three years ago. Yes I’m talking about you, Montreal Impact. Signing every over-the-hill Italian player won’t make you good.
Meanwhile, our national team flounders under bad manager after bad manager. Jurgen Klinsmann was the sexy pick, but the sexy pick hasn’t come with concrete results. How do you not call up a player who has scored 18 goals in 17 games? Altidore is the best American striker, Klinsmann. Put him on the pitch.
At some point, we need to separate the MLS from American players overseas. They may have gotten their start in the American league but their talent is not eternally tethered to it. Clint Dempsey is Clint Dempsey because of Fulham not the New England Revolution and Donovan wouldn’t be half the player he is without Bayer Leverkeusen, Bayern Munich, and Everton.