News roundup

Soto joins Hannover at the expense of RSL, Rooney magnificent, and more

Sebastian Soto will head to Hannover and his move will hopefully force a much needed debate. Elsewhere, Wayne Rooney is elevating DC United, Toroto are champs, LAFC impresses, and several Americans are involved in the Europa League today. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 16, 2018
6:00 AM
The middle of the week was busy for American soccer as the Canadian Championship featured several Americans while another U.S. U-20 player left for Europe. Here are the stories

Soto to Hannover

In a deal that has been expected for some time, United States U-20 national team forward Sebastian Soto formally signed with Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga where he will play with the club’s U-19 team. Soto was previously with Real Salt Lake where he was the leading scorer of the Development Academy last season after spending many years with the RSL academy.

The announcement touches upon a lot of interesting debates.

Real Salt Lake spent years developing Sebastian Soto. He is a player that is clearly a product of the RSL academy and earlier in the summer he explained how his career took off when he joined the academy.

Now Soto, 18, will leave for Germany and Real Salt Lake will get nothing for its years of effort. As Brian Dunseth reported last night, Soto turned down a higher offer from RSL to join Hannover 96.

To make matters worse for Real Salt Lake, ASN has learned that prized prospect Richie Ledezma is on the verge of signing with a club in Holland. Along with Taylor Booth to Bayern Munich and Sebastian Soto to Hannover, Ledezma will complete a trio of players that have left RSL academy for free.

The sad reality is that these moves make it hard to justify the existence of MLS academies – which are producing better and better talent – which is why you see European teams now actively scouting the DA and MLS academies. It is also why you also see that the American players who do make jump are closer to being ready for first team soccer.

Something must change and the need for training compensation is overdue. MLS teams must also be more aggressive in signing players at a younger age to prevent European clubs from swooping in. Offering playing time isn’t enough because the teams that have lost the most value of players leaving for free are teams like RSL which play young players.

It is good to have top young American players in good situations in Europe but how they get to Europe is just as important. Giving players away for free to European teams is highly detrimental to the progress of the sport in the U.S.

If this country wants to produce more players like Weston McKennie and Richard Ledezma, then teams like Dallas and Real Salt Lake need to reap the rewards for their development. Without that, you are going to get fewer McKennie’s and fewer Ledezma’s.

Soto might succeed at Hannover and if he does, it will be good for American soccer. But his gain highlights much bigger problem regardig the system in this country that needs fixing if American youth development is going to take the next step.

Rooney magnificent

Wayne Rooney’s first weeks in MLS could not have gone any better. His professionalism, effort, enthusiasm, and quality have all been off-the-charts. He is doing his part to raise the quality of his entire team.

On Sunday Rooney had the play that created the stunning winning goal over Orlando. On Wednesday night, he had a two-goal performance that gave DC United a 3-1 win over Portland. Even better for United is that the team is now fun and exciting to watch.

The result is that DC United moved from 11th place to eighth and is six points back of the playoffs. But DC United has the advantage of having four games in-hand over sixth place Montreal and most of its remaining games are at home.

Ramirez lights up RSL

Los Angeles FC paid a lot to acquire Christian Ramierez from Minnesota but Wednesday night showed that it could be money well spent. The striker from California scored two goals as LAFC defeated Real Salt Lake (who were already having a bad day after the Soto debacle) 2-0.

In particular, this touch and finish on Ramirez’s first goal were particularly impressive.

At this point, the Western Conference is just tough to figure out. Dallas leads the pack but does not seem to be that much better from the rest of the heard.

Don’t be surprised if LAFC becomes a very tough team to beat in the MLS playoffs. The team is well coached, two good central defenders, and plenty of offense. The big question is how will Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen hold up come November?

Toronto wins Canadian Championship

Despite a poor season in the league, Toronto will return to the CONCACAF Champions League after winning the Canadian Championship for the third straight time with a 5-2 (7-4 aggregate) win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Jozy Altidore fluctuates between stellar and poor but last night he was in fine form scoring a hat trick en route to the title. Sebastian Giovinco also played like his normal self and that was too much for Vancouver.

What was also noteworthy was the play of Marky Delgado who was a late insertion into the starting XI after Victor Vazquez suffered an injury in warmup. Delgado played like a player who deserves another U.S. national team call-up. He was not just effective in offense but he was solid in defense as well where he helped to break up Vancouver’s offensive chances.

In particular, Delgado’s backheel assist to Altidore was one of the plays of the game.

Americans in the Europa today

Europa League qualifying resumes today for second leg matchups

Emerson Hyndham and Hibernian visit Molde (0-0 after leg one)

Jonathan Amon and Nordjaelland visit Partizan Beograd (Partizan leads 2-1 after leg one)

Aaron Schoenfeld and Maccabi Tel Aviv host Pyunik (0-0 after leg one)

Bronx born John Caulfield is the head coach of Cork City which will try to overcome a 2-0 deficit on the road against Rosenborg in the second leg.

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