Early Run-Through with Three U.S. Divisions

I set up the US league as spring to fall. Seems more likely than fall to spring, although the latter would be possible in this fictitious nation where soccer is the most popular sport.

Left to do:

  • Add 4th division and non-league teams.
  • Differentiate the teams’ ratings in various categories, such as Reputation and tactical tendencies. I want both Tony Pulis and Pep Guardiola type managers.
  • Differentiate colors and kit schemes.
  • Create US Open Cup and others. Concacaf is automatically present because it involves the rest of North America. I may see if I can expand the number of qualifying teams. I want a more vibrant North American region generally.

Results in Trial Run

In this run through we see that a top-tier Las Angeles team (oops) defeated Real Esteli but fell to Club América, one of the big Mexico City teams. The only U.S. team in the semifinal was Seattle Pilots, who were eliminated by Club América 5-0. Monterrey then defeated América 3-1 in the final. In World Cup 2022 qualifying, the US is making its way easily.

The results don’t mean anything. This run through was to make sure the data file generated realistic results.

In addition to a U.S. Open Cup that matters, there will be 8 regional cups such as Northeast, Great Plains, Southwest, etc. This should create some cup “magic” with clubs from the big cities having to play clubs in small ones.

U.S. Soccer: Better Than the Real Thing

This project has the radical assumption that football became the dominant participant and spectator sport in the U.S. in the early 20th century. The “handling game” of what Americans currently call football is rugby. This is the reason for using “football” instead of “soccer.”

This project reflects the biases of the author regarding what makes the sport of football interesting. (Use of the word “football” is one of those things.) These preferences are the outcome of 40 years of off- and on-again spectating of the sport, and the U.S.’s persistent failure at it, both domestically and at the international level.

Most of these preferences will become apparent from the structure of the league and the content the author creates. But a few of these preferences can be stated at the start so that passers-by can choose whether or not to give the project his or her attention.

The fundamental conceit that underlies this project is that any “problems” with football in the United States, for example aspects like player development and club advancement on merit, are not specifically football problems or even sports problems. I won’t address these in any detail; the interminable debates are well-known to anyone who follows the sport in the U.S.

A few basic issues are: the franchise system, the idea that clubs are “businesses first” with a strong profit motive, and court rulings making sports leagues immune to anti-trust laws. These issues aren’t present in most other nations in the world, although they often have their own quirks. Unfortunately, many elite clubs are now co-opted by rich investors with no relation to the sport other than as a line item in a portfolio, or as a politically motivated “soft power” presence.

Obviously, the U.S. could excel at the sport if it had developed differently. But the U.S. took different paths in its major sports development. To make football “work” in the U.S., then, requires imagining an entirely different U.S.; an alternative history, if you will. No tweak or modest change in U.S. soccer will work.

So to “correct” U.S. football, in other words to make it something that interests me, requires going back to the beginning, roughly the early part of the 20th century. It’s no good thinking, for example, that promotion and relegation can be grafted onto the current U.S. football structure. It would be like trying to graft the branch of an orange tree onto a cactus. So unlike in real-life, some of the foundational U.S. clubs here will have their origins in the late 19th century.

This approach of “beginning at the beginning” has caused me to wipe the slate clean. While real-life people like players and coaches are maintained, none of the structures of U.S. soccer have been kept. There is no MLS, or any of the other failed U.S. soccer leagues, nor are there any of the historical teams. What I provide in exchange is a nation richly populated with clubs from the highest to the lowest levels. A deep pyramid with a lively national cup, league cups, regional cups, and other events that make football interesting.

Some Technical Details

The “franchise” system of the current U.S. is ignored. There is no allocation to cities based on the old system that goes like: “New York and Los Angeles each get two teams, and we work down from there until we end up at smaller ‘markets’ like Cincinnati. Other teams are in ‘minor leagues.'” Most clubs are publicly owned, as are the stadiums. All other nations’ data is maintained in its “real-world” form.

I spread clubs around the nation loosely based on current population density. I’ve placed clubs in locations that appealed to me, but that might be unrealistic in many cases if you look at a contemporary map. Again, this is part of an assumed larger alternative history of the United States, and strict faithfulness to the current landscape isn’t a factor.

There are more than 300 created clubs in this U.S. database. A few have reputations that compare favorably to top clubs in the world. As I said, all current and previous clubs, leagues, and structures are wiped clean. After creation of the league, the game takes over in assigning players to clubs based on their reputations. Many players are generated by the game to fill rosters. This merely points out the scattershot nature of the U.S. youth development system. In this project, the U.S. actually identifies good players early and develops them.

Some of these players will be standouts at the level of the U.S.’s top player, Christian Pulisic, and some even higher. This will have the knock-on effect of making for a better men’s national team, albeit one with many generated players rather than the mediocrity that populates the squad in real life. Another knock-on effect will be that players choose to play in the U.S. rather than in Europe or elsewhere.

Goal Elusive for Feyenoord against Partick Thistle

In a surprise result at The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill, Glasgow, Feyenoord Rotterdam were defeated 2-0 by Partick Thistle FC in their friendly encounter.

Midfielder Luke Sweeney gave Thistle the lead with a penalty in the 58th minute. Forward Graham Mitchell rounded off the Jags victory on 82 minutes with a close-range volley.

Feyenoord have dropped their first two matches against lesser opponents in the pre-season.

“Seventeen shots, four on goal. All is well!,” a grinning Manager Tomas van Dam said to reporters. No one understood at the time that it was a reference to a collegiate prankster movie comedy called “Animal House.”

Feyenoord continue their trip to Scotland with a match against Hearts in two days.

Alt+Feyenoord Open Pre-Season with Draw

Feyenoord Rotterdam were left frustrated by a plucky Plymouth Argyle outfit who withstood a 90-minute barrage to come away from Home Park with a 1-1 draw.

Midfielder Scott Paterson* gave the League Two club the lead with a placed shot from 20 yards in the 12th minute. With time running out, substitute Gjermund Åsen scored a powerful shot into the bottom corner to equalize for Feyenoord.

Feyenoord had much the more-potent attack, but poor accuracy left the Eredivisie side short.

* Generated player. There was a Scott Paterson who played for Plymouth in 2000, but this isn’t him unless he’s still playing at age 48.

Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park

Inquiry Launched into Dodgy Scouting

New Alt+Feyenoord voetbal manager Tomas van Dam denied being a bit put off today when a high-priced center-back was recommended to him by Director of Football Martin van Geel. With the players scattered to the winds of off-season, van Dam refused to comment on any bad blood between the two.

“Vakantie gaan,” van Dam replied when asked about an English expletive heard from his offices.

Speculation is that Matt Miazga, a center-back at SC Braga in Liga Nos, was touted by the scout team, despite being below standards. His valuation is also far too high for a transfer in a league where youth development is gospel.

“An inquiry will be made into the scout team. Perhaps we can convince one of the big English clubs to buy our comparable player, Sven van Beek, for $15M. This would pay for a better defender than either in the continental player pool with plenty left over for the grounds-keeping budget.”

Martin van Geel is answerable only to the chairman in Feyenoord’s sporting structure.