My colleague Ouriel Daskal has discussed the possibility of an “American Messi” – the emergence of a truly historical talent from the US. The correct term is probably a “North American Messi” – as Messi is Americano.
During the World Cup in South Africa I had the pleasure of speaking with Jonathan Spector – US national team player currently with Birmingham City and with West Ham at the time. Spector belongs to an illustrious sporting family as his grandfather Arty Spector played for the Boston Celtics in the NBA.
He pointed to an interesting aspect of American soccer. Kids in the US play almost exclusively in clubs. They have coaching from the first day they kick a ball. This provides for a very good technical basis of passing, kicking, heading and tackling. But talents out of ordinary – like Messi, the Ronaldos or Maradona, Pele and Puskas in previous times, emerge from street football and not from meticulous coaching. Coaches know how to nurture them – but the coach to create them has not been born.
This is why the US has created a solid assembly line of solid, disciplined players – a great resource to employers and national team.
But the day of a true US football genius may still be quite far away.