Eric Cantona is to to return to the world of soccer as the new director of football at the NY Cosmos. Reaction to the appointment has ranged from surprise to joy to disbelief, but more my part the video they have put up with Cantona says it all, he’s back.
For my part, I’m delighted, and find myself truly hopeful for the MLS for the first time in a long time. What the MLS has always lacked, other than fans and good players, has been credibility and organic development. One of the key problems with soccer in the United States is the lack of a serious youth structure for the clubs, deferring instead to moribund and hopelessly corrupt NCAA. The Cosmos seem to be trying to break this mold through their development plan. They aren’t in a rush, and are building a youth system before launching a professional side, and bringing on board staff who can bring a wealth of experience with the more successful European model to the NY Cosmos jersey. And what’s more, is they are doing all these things in the one place in America where a truly organic soccer culture exists, New York City.
New York City is many things to many people, for me its the city where I was born, and emblematic of the best of the United States. A truly multi-ethnic multi-cultural society in which soccer is played in the streets and the parks by children and adults alike, where learning comes from watching not learning in a camp environment. And as Ken Sweda has said in this wonderful article on US soccer, this is the cornerstone of any successful football nation.
With Cantona in the mix, the Cosmos will be able to attract further talent, and develop their youth system along the same lines as a European club, free of the taint of the NCAA. I’m truly looking forward to their launch in late May, and hope they can spark a revolution that will make US soccer, and the MLS, internationally relevant.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
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