Magee vs Metro, 2011
The failing trend
February 18, 2012

Zach Thornton. Manny Lagos. Kerry Zavagnin. Mike Petke. Brad Davis. Ricardo Clark. Eddie Gaven. Marvell Wynne. Mike Magee. What do all these names have in common?

They were all young American players who started their MLS career with Metro, were discarded, and ended up being major part of MLS Cup winners elsewhere.

The above doesn't even include players that didn't start their career with Metro (Danny O'Rourke, Todd Dunivant, Nick Rimando), non-Americans (Ezra Hendrickson, Mac Kandji), or players who might have not won MLS Cup but have still excelled in MLS (Daniel Hernandez, Eric Brunner, Jeff Parke) or overseas (Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore). There are more names if you want them.

Throughout this franchise's history there has been one alarming, failing trend: Metro has always given up on young players. When these moves are looked at separately, they might make sense: for example, who would have thought back in 1999 that Zavagnin, who was atrocious in his two seasons with Metro, will ever amount to anything? But when one looks at the overall pictures, he sees the same thing over, and over, and over. And it's not immune to any regime: even Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena, known for building champions on the backbone of American talent elsewhere, are guilty.

But Bradley and Arena, who did more than their share to actually bring American talent to Metro, don't come close to the current regime. With the releases of Matt Kassel and Sacir Hot, the current roster is virtually gutted of young American presence (and if rumors are to be believed, Juan Agudelo is not long for this world). And no, we don't know if Kassel or Hot will ever amount to anything. But one must look at the picture in whole.

In MLS, there has been a formula for success that resonates throughout each champion: teams build with young American talent, acquired usually through the draft, and augment it with foreign signings. The current regime has eschewed the draft almost completely, and it was our supposedly ballyhooed academy that was supposed to replace it. Well, we still have Agudelo (for now), as well as Connor Lade, and then?

One looks at Arena's team in Los Angeles and can't help but weep. Here's a perfect example of a franchise that was mired in its dependence on foreign mercenaries. Yet Arena came, and quickly rebuilt with young American talent (augmented by foreigners, of course). He created a juggernaut of a team that last year disposed all comers, including Metro in the quarterfinals. A series where two goals were scored by Magee. Now excuse us as we bang our head against the wall.

Of course, it's not impossible that this current Metro team will buck the trend. After all, the core of the lineup has stayed the same from last year, and that is another key to MLS success. Nothing is impossible. We just hate seeing the ongoing failing trend.

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