The US club vs country debate is a false equivalence

I read Shaka Hislop’s article on the emerging club vs country debate that the US faces. At this point the US is cruising to World Cup qualification. They have had some less than flattering performance but lets face it, other than a total meltdown, the US should guarantee themselves a spot.
Hislop points out that it is a good time for Bob Bradley to give a chance to some of the more deserving candidates like Chad Marshall or Edson Buddle. I agree but that does not make it a club vs country debate.
There are two points. The US will qualify for the World Cup from now to eternity as they face competition in one of the weakest conferences. With four spots, they can choose which position to come in at.
When you have the luxury to rotate your squad every other game, it does not inconvenience your club to lose a player every now and then. It does make a difference when you have to put your best starting XI to secure qualification. Look at England, Italy, and France sweating bullets in the Euro zone qualifiers. Now that is a real hardline club vs country debate. One only has to look at the verbal spats that have taken place in the past between Sir Alex and the FA or Jose Mourinho and the German soccer federation. Or what took place between the Nigerian FA and L’OM with Taye Taiwo in the Beijing Olympics.
The other point which is much more fundamental to the debate, if there is one, is that the MLS does not raise stakes as high as the European leagues. This has much to do with the unitary structure of MLS ownership, revenue sharing, and caps on transfer fees which establishes financial parity between clubs. There is no relegation system, consequently there are no penalties involved for a club’s poor performance other than missing the playoffs or conversely, a stellar season that guarantees playing with the big boys and the financial payoff that comes with it.
Of course, Bob Bradley might not want to tinker with the squad too much from a practical standpoint. There is just a finite number of opportunities that you get to coalesce your final starting XI to do World Cup duty which might mean some MLS clubs missing key players regularly but still given that there are lower stakes involved, I don’t see a basis for a club vs country debate.

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