Despite the continued difficulty the NASL is having with the appropriate sanctioning bodies, St Louis United and Jeff Cooper took massive steps forward today in bringing soccer back home to its roots.
AC St Louis, as the club will be known named Claude Anelka as its manager. Anelka was named by the Guardian one of the ten worst managers of recent times (A list that only included high profile names such as David Platt, Alan Ball, former Chicago Fire/DC United player Hristo Stoichkov and former Fort Lauderdale Striker Ossie Ardieles. The list should have included Chris Waddle as well).
Nonetheless, Anelka who has worked as an Assistant Manager in France and is the brother of former Arsenal/Real Madrid/Manchester City and current Chelsea Striker Nicholas Anelka, has the right pedigree to be successful. A European manager whose been around training and fixtures in competitive atmospheres, will help develop a competitive team.
Sources connected with the USSF’s sanctioning process indicate to me that the NASL in unlikely to be approved, for various external reasons that do not actually relate directly to the TOA/USL dispute. But public opinion among American soccer fans seems to be with the NASL, and St Louis announcement bring the sentimental card into play.
Can the USSF really reject a league that will bring soccer back to its ancestral home in the United States while places like Columbus, and Richmond enjoy professional soccer? No insult to those lovely cities, but soccer in America without a strong, professional St Louis presence will always be incomplete.
St Louis’ announcement and the professionalism of Cooper’s setup works in the favor of the NASL. Cooper has worked to recreate St Louis Youth Soccer on European lines and is also a board member of English Football League side, Brentford. He also owns the St Louis Athletica of WPS.