Emerson Hyndman – The Next Michael Bradley?

To many American soccer fans, the surname Hyndman will sound familiar. That is because Emerson Hyndman’s grandfather is Schellas Hyndman, former head coach of Dallas FC from 2008-2013 and runner-up MLS cup finalist in 2010.  

The apple did not fall far from the tree. In 2011, after a stint in the youth system of FC Dallas, the 15-year old Emerson joined the Fulham youth system. Since his arrival he has been very impressive, playing for the first team since the start of the 2014 season. His exploits for the youth squads of the USMNT, along with his rise through the ranks to Fulham’s first team, are key indicators of what he could bring to the USMNT if he continues to develop.

In joining Fulham, Emerson Hyndman could not have chosen a better team’s youth system. It is well-known that Fulham and its fans have a soft spot in their hearts for American soccer players. Kasey Keller, Clint Dempsey, and the venerable Brian McBride are just a few of the American talents who have enjoyed successful careers at Craven Cottage. Fulham’s openness to American talent, especially when most European teams seem to shy away from American players, has even earned it the moniker “Fulhamerica.” Therefore, unlike many club academies in Europe, Emerson was sure to have a fair shot at proving himself at Fulham; fortunately, he took that chance.

Throughout his entire career at Fulham Emerson has impressed the coaches and staff with his vision and work ethic. His hard work was finally rewarded this season, thanks to Fulham’s relegation. Fulham fans would not see their relegation as fortuitous, but for Emerson Hyndman, this was impeccable timing. When a team is relegated, its transfer budget for new players becomes extremely limited. Had Fulham avoided relegation, the team would have brought in more talent to strengthen itself; being relegated prevented it from doing so.

Relegation also prompted a few of its players to jump ship in order to stay in top-flight competition, thus further decreasing its ranks of talented players. No longer able to reinforce itself from other sources, Fulham was forced to look inward. Doing so allowed academy products such as Emerson a chance to prove themselves. Emerson got his first start for the Fulham first team on August 9. Since then Emerson Hyndman has played six additional games. Because Fulham currently have an unsettled starting line-up there will be chances for Emerson to get first-team opportunities.

Anyone who has seen Emerson Hyndman play lauds his technical ability. He has great vision, and he is a master at both short and long-range passes. His spatial and game awareness are still developing, but that is the case with most 18-year-old academy products. These skills will only get better as he gets more time on the first team. Playing time will not be hard to come by either, as Fulham’s former head coach, Felix Magath, has a very high opinion of Emerson.

In a conversation with Fulham’s website, FulhamFC.com, Magath even went so far to describe Emerson Hyndman’s role on a team as similar to Andrea Pirlo’s role on the field because of Emerson’s ability to see the field and make the right passes to advance the team from a deep position. It is a great sign when a head coach holds an academy product in such high esteem. Magath’s opinion still holds a significant amount of weight within the organization even if he was let go.

Currently, Michael Bradley occupies the role of midfield orchestrator on the USMNT; however, because of his subpar play at the 2014 World Cup, his recent move to MLS, and his advancing age, he might only hold onto that role until the end of the 2018 World Cup before youth begins to change the dynamic of the USMNT starting lineup. If all goes according to plan for Emerson Hyndman, he can be next up to be the deep-lying midfielder that the USMNT so desperately needs.

His vision and sublime passing make him an ideal future replacement for Michael Bradley, and his current tutelage means he has a much higher ceiling than Michael Bradley has. Emerson Hyndman can be the deep-lying metronome type midfielder Michael Bradley was supposed to become but it will take time for him to obtain those lofty ambitions. The next four years will determine whether Emerson takes the right steps to reach that ceiling, or stagnates.

While an English Championship team is not the optimum spot for a 25-year-old player trying to break into the USMNT, this is of little concern to Emerson at this point. The English Championship is not a bad place for young American players to develop. Each of the teams has good academies and plays quality competition. Also because lowers budgets keep Championship teams from bringing in expensive talent, younger and less expensive academy products like Emerson find that they are not relegated to the bench.

The major concern for Emerson is whether Fulham continues to sink to the lower depths of the English soccer tiers. At the moment, Emerson is in the perfect situation, as long as he keeps an eye on his future. In the Championship he can learn a lot.

However, if Fulham continues to struggle, then Emerson must view his time on the first team as an audition for other teams in Europe. Especially since the team’s continued struggles have already lead to Felix Magrath being fired and was recently replaced by Kit Symons. New coaches mean new tactics and new ideas which Emerson Hyndman may not necessarily fit into. He needs to keep moving forward, the worst thing he can do is let himself get dragged down with Fulham if it continues to slide.

First Published in First Touch

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MLS Announces Ownership Group For LA FC Led By Henry Nguyen

From MLSsoccer.com:

A new era for Major League Soccer in Los Angeles began today as MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced that a new team has been awarded to an ownership group led by entrepreneur Henry Nguyen, sports and entertainment leader Peter Guber, and sports veteran Tom Penn.  The new club is scheduled to debut in 2017 in a new soccer stadium in the greater Los Angeles area built specifically for the team.

Along with Nguyen, Guber and Penn, the new team’s ownership group includes: Ruben Gnanalingam, co-owner of the English Premier League’s Queens Park Rangers, Vincent Tan, owner of the Football League Championship’s Cardiff City and FK Sarajevo of the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, former Los Angeles Lakers star, Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises and an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers,Mia Hamm Garciaparra, U.S. women’s soccer great, Tony Robbins, America’s #1 life and business strategist, best-selling author, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Nomar Garciaparra,former Major League Baseball star and SportsNet LA baseball analyst, Larry Berg, senior partner at Apollo Global Management and a co-owner of AS Roma, Allen Shapiro, CEO of Dick Clark Productions and managing partner of Mosaic Media Investment Partners, Chad Hurley, co-founder and former CEO of YouTube and the founder and CEO of MixBit, Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors Basketball Club, Bennett Rosenthal, co-founder and senior partner of Ares Management and a co-owner of AS Roma, as well as Kirk Lacob, Mark Leschly, Mike Mahan, Irwin Raij, Paul Schaeffer, Brandon Schneider, Jason Sugarman and Harry Tsao. A few additional prominent owners are expected to be added to this list shortly.

The rumors are true and it seems like the new LA MLS franchise will have a solid ownership group behind it. What I don’t understand is how MLS teams insist on calling themselves “football clubs” instead of “soccer clubs” like Orlando City did with their new franchise. It’s a weird idiosyncrasy that keeps popping up with MLS teams. The adoption of the European way of doing things makes sense to a degree but the forceful adoption of the word football is getting confusing. We as Americans need to choose one word or the other and stick with it. Mini rant aside I am pumped for this new franchise. LA is a strong soccer market and it is about time they had two strong LA franchises in place to grow that market even further.

Indonesian Teams Score On Themselves So They Won’t Play Gangster-Controlled Team

From Yahoo!:

Two Indonesian teams have been disqualified from an end-of-season tournament after five own goals were scored in a single match, an official said Wednesday, as both sides sought to lose in a bid to avoid facing a team reportedly backed by gangsters.

Video footage showed goalkeepers from the two clubs, PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang, making half-hearted attempts to stop shots and walking away from the goal as the ball approached during Sunday’s match in Yogyakarta, on the main island of Java.

PSS Sleman eventually ‘won’ 3-2 — they conceded two own goals during the match, but were handed victory by their opponents who managed to allow three own goals in the final three minutes.

The teams were both trying to avoid playing against Pusamania Borneo FC in the semi-finals of the Premier Division’s final rounds as the team is believed to be backed by gangsters, local media reported.

The Jakarta Globe newspaper said that Pusamania fans recently attacked the coach of a visiting team, Persis, who promptly abandoned the planned game and took the first flight home.

From now on anytime you are lacing up your boots nervously as you prepare to play a team you think is clearly better than you, remember that it could always be worse. You could be preparing to play a team that would literally kill you. The incident above is not as rare as it should be in that part of the world. Indonesia has long been a hot bed for corruption within soccer and this only highlights how bad the problems have gotten. Corruption has become so entrenched in soccer there that it is difficult to see it ever being completely eradicated. Hopefully it is one day because no soccer player should feel so afraid of playing a team that they will score on themselves just to prevent it.

The New 2018 Fifa World Cup Logo

Fifa has released the new World Cup logo for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.  The logo was revealed from outer space on Russian TV programming (how fitting?).

The logo is fairly conservative.  The World Cup trophy is obviously the center piece and the colors from Russia’s flag.  It looks fine to me, certainly not the worst logo by any means (see: France in 1998)

Tell us what you think of the logo.

world cup 2018



MLS Insider- Erick “Cubo” Torres The All-Time Leading Mexican-Born Scorer In MLS History

At 21 years old, Erick “Cubo” Torres is already the all-time leading Mexican-born scorer in MLS history, having bagged 15 goals in his first full year with Chivas USA and another seven in the previous campaign. His goal celebration, the robot dance, is inspired by a celebration in the FIFA video game, and shows no sign of letting up as he recently opened his goalscoring account with the Mexican National Team in what was only his third senior team cap.

MLS does a great job with their digital content and this video is just one video in a long line of fantastic content they have produced. This subject matter is especially intriguing because it is hard to believe that Cubo was able to surpass the record for all-time leading Mexican-born scorer in MLS history at such a young age. US soccer owes a lot of its early success to the presence of foreigners and the close proximity of Mexico means it has a large influence on both our past and present soccer successes. The fact that there have been so few prolific Mexican-born scorers in MLS history is shocking at first. However, the domestic Mexican soccer league does pay better and is closer to home so the more you think about it the easier it is to understand why a lot of Mexican talent chooses to stay within their own league. Why go to a foreign land when they can make a good career closer to their friends and family?