"They think, you get a tryout in Europe with West Ham, this is huge, you made it. No, you haven’t even made it if you have the contract with West Ham. And even if you play there and if you become a starter, which would make us happy, that still doesn’t mean that you made it.
"My whole talk to Clint Dempsey for 18 months was [about how] he hasn’t made s—. You play for Fulham? Yeah, so? Show me you play for a Champions League team, and then you start on a Champions League team and that you may end up winning the Champions League. There is always another level. If you one day reach the highest level then you’ve got to confirm it, every year. Xavi, Iniesta, Messi. Confirm it to me. Show me that every year you deserve to play for Real Madrid, for Bayern Munich, for Manchester United. Show it to me."
Those words came out of Jurgen Klinsmann's mouth last January. The message could not be more clear: the U.S. men's national team coach wanted his players to push themselves, to earn bigger moves to bigger clubs in bigger leagues, ever upwards in pursuit of improvement.
Yet, in the intervening months, the opposite has happened. National team players and hopefuls - first Clint Dempsey, then Michael Bradley, Michael Parkurst, Maurice Edu and Clarence Goodson - all signed with Major League Soccer teams before the World Cup. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi signed new, big-money designated player deals after the tournament to stay in the league and DaMarcus Beasley came back on his own DP contract. In recent days, Jermaine Jones, Mikkel Diskerud and Sacha Kljestan have all been linked with moves to MLS.
In other words, the exact opposite of what Klinsmann was urging from his players has happened.
DeAndre Yedlin could be different. The now-21-year-old Seattle Sounders right back was a breakout star in his substitute appearances for the U.S. men's national team this summer. Those performances brought him international attention, linking him with a move overseas. First Roma then Lyon looked like like the likeliest destinations, but now Tottenham is in pole position for the defender's signature.
While the deal certainly makes sense for the Sounders, not everyone is sold. Retired goalkeeper Kasey Keller revealed his reservations about the potential transfer to Goal USA earlier this week, worrying that Yedlin's progress could stall.
There's no denying that fighting for a spot at a top-half English Premier League side against England international Kyle Walker would be a huge step up from his secure spot on the Sounders. But Yedlin has improved at an impressive rate in his season and a half of professional soccer, and is arguably the best right back in MLS.
Moving to Tottenham would be a risk, but probably one worth taking. Failure would mean a year or two lost and a move back to MLS or to another club in Europe. Success would mean the U.S. has a young player starting or at least fighting for a starting role at a team on the fringes of the Champions League fight. It might not be Real Madrid, but it's a step in the right direction.
MLS is getting better, and may sooner rather than later achieve its ambition of being one of the world's best leagues. But right now, there's no better place than Europe for a player to push himself in competition with the planet's finest. And that's what Jurgen Klinsmann wants from players like Yedlin.
Portland — The Timbers' recent upswing was ended by an encounter with late-season Galaxy, Devourer of Points. But All-Star week was fun, and the right confluence of results this weekend would be enough for Portland to finally breathe deep, rich, above-the-red-line lungfuls of air. And hey, All-Star week was fun!
Coming up: Chivas USA had a great run of form not too long ago, picking up four straight wins. The Goats then followed that up with three straight losses, and have fallen back to the bottom of the West. But Chivas is still capable of tripping up the Timbers, and Portland's home record is sketchy. Saturday, Aug. 9, 10:30 p.m. PT - MLS LIVE.
Seattle — Two losses for the Sounders and suddenly, a long, triumphant march to a Supporters' Shield is a muddy race. Kansas City is point ahead, D.C. one behind, and RSL one further back of that. Even the LA Galaxy, five points back, could get into the mix. But with games in hand and the league's best points per game, Seattle is still in control of its own destiny.
Coming up: Two games for the Rave Green this week, and with them, chances to retake the top spot and reach a cup final. First is a meeting with the Houston Dynamo. The Orange won in their last outing, taking all three points against D.C., but it was their first victory after eight games without one. Sunday, Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m. PT - ESPN2.
In Midweek, Seattle goes for its fifth Open Cup final in six years when it hosts Chicago. The Open Cup is a competition where the Sounders have enjoyed a lot of success, and given Chicago's poor form most of the year, one where they really should come out on top. Wednesday, Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m. PT - USsoccer.com.
Vancouver — Colorado's recent form - two straight losses - has created an opening for the Whitecaps. The Canadian club is now just a point short of the Rapids' playoff spot, with a game in hand over Pablo Mastroeni's side.
Coming up: If Vancouver wants to snap its winless streak and get back into the postseason places, it's gonna have to do it the hard way. Sporting Kansas City is 5-0-3 in its last eight and is the current Supporters' Shield leader. Sunday, Aug. 10, 5 p.m. PT, MLS Live, TSN
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