MLS Commissioner: Missing World Cup will become a positive for soccer in US

Don Garber -- SoTL hed

TORONTO – Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber doesn’t see a silver bullet fix for the US national team in the wake of their recent failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

He does, however, see potential ways that MLS can work with the US Soccer Federation and other soccer organizations to help ensure that the USMNT never misses another World Cup.

Garber, who discussed the topic in Friday’s annual State of the League prior to MLS Cup, indicated there were a multitude of considerations that could help push the sport forward in the US. Among others, he pointed to the possibility of greater integration between the league and the USSF in youth development as well as the opportunity to address structural challenges that exist on the youth level.

The MLS commissioner also said that the league could entertain transferring younger MLS prospects, specifically referencing New York Red Bulls academy product and a likely future USMNT candidate, Tyler Adams. The 18-year-old midfielder generated plenty of buzz this year after starring for the US Under-20 national team at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and emerging as a key player on a New York Red Bulls squad that qualified for the playoffs.

“We’ve always wanted the Tyler Adams to be young stars for the local people from the community where he came from,” Garber said. “Maybe we are more open to thinking about the Tyler Adams of the world perhaps playing a year or two [in MLS] and then going overseas.”

While missing the World Cup causes some short-term pain, Garber thinks the USMNT’s failure to book a ticket to Russia could end up being a net positive for both US Soccer and MLS.

“I think this process, which has been traumatic to the system, has us all taking a step back and recognizing that we were all experiencing a lot of momentum, we were kind of thinking that we cracked the code,” he said. “And when you have things that set you back, it allows strong people to work within, to reach outside of your insular group and try to get better so it doesn’t happen again. So, after the initial challenge here, I actually think this is going to be a positive, at least on the men’s side, for US Soccer and even ultimately for the league.”

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