In an otherwise dull weekend of U.S. soccer news comes the rather extraordinary revelation that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo senior midfielder Anton Peterlin has been offered a contract by English Premiership side Everton. After playing in the PDL last summer for the Ventura County Fusion, Peterlin earned a trial in March with Everton on the recommendation of Fusion coach Gary Smith. After spending 10 days in Liverpool recently, Peterlin impressed Everton coach David Moyes enough that he was offered a permanent deal.
I haven't seen Peterlin play, nor had I ever heard of him before this past weekend. However, his signing is yet another indication that serious questions need to be asked about the way MLS teams conduct their player scouting and evaluation. After all, how is it possible that Peterlin was deemed by Everton to be worthy of a contract, whereas the Earthquakes and Fire (with whom he had previously trialed) did not? More to the point, when you consider the midfield dead zones of teams like the Galaxy and the Red Bulls, it's strange that someone like Peterlin was overlooked.
1. Speaking of American midfielders: Michael Bradley turned in a pretty good performance against Bayern on Saturday in Gladbach's 2-1 loss. Despite missing a pretty good chance to draw his team even late in the second half, Bradley gave further proof that he is developing into a solid box-to-box midfielder. (On the downside, his recent penalty miss against Eintracht Frankfurt seems to have resulted in a demotion from those duties, which Filip Daems fulfilled against Bayern.)
Looking at the bigger picture, though, Gladbach slumped further into the relegation zone with the loss, making it more likely that Bradley will be playing in the German second tier unless he chooses to make another summer move. But a case could be made for his staying where he's at for one more season. With the World Cup looming and Bradley clearly established as a key member of the Gladbach lineup, moving to a bigger team -- where he'd have to re-establish himself and possibly ride the pine -- would be a gamble.
2. The U-17 World Cup. With swine flu putting an end to the U-17 CONCACAF Championships, the U.S. U-17s can now concentrate on preparations for the U-17 World Cup later this year in Nigeria. There's no doubt that the U-17 tournament, to a certain degree, can be used to measure how the U.S. is developing as a soccer nation. And recent editions of American youth teams continue to make incremental progress in terms of technique, flair and general soccer IQ.
A word of caution to U.S. fans, though, because it seems too many of them still place far too much stock in the results of these youth World Cups: A quick look at the starting lineup of the French team that won the 2001 U-17 World Cup in such stylish fashion shows the inherent dangers of overhyping youth players. Names such as Hassan Yebda, Jacques Faty, Anthony Le Tallec, Stephen Drouin, Julio Colombo, Florent Chaigneau, Mourad Meghnid, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Emmers Fae, Jeremie Berthod and Kevin Jacmot don't exactly grab the eye. And for good reason: None of them -- with the exception of Sinama-Pongolle, who is a decent but hardly star-quality forward -- have matured into top-notch professionals.
Considered to be especially disappointing is the pair of Le Tallec and Sinama-Pongelle, a forward tandem that absolutely tore up the '01 World Cup and that was touted at the time by French observers as the next Eric Cantona and Thierry Henry. The lesson from all this? U.S. fans should be happy if each U-17 World Cup squad can produce even one or two players who can contend for a place on the senior squad.