Bocanegra and Bedoya to Continue a Terrible Trend at Rangers

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

By Evan Ream

Today Rangers signed two US internationals; Carlos Bocanegra from St. Etienne in France and Alejandro Bedoya from Orebro in Sweden. While many are seeing this as a positive move, few are seeing it for what it truly is: early Champion’s League exits and a fat pay day.

USA’s players have been improving steadily for the last decade, moving to big teams in Europe…and apparently Rangers FC. Rangers, who also have Maurice Edu on their books and had DaMarcus Beasley on them a few years ago, have apparently taken a liking to Americans because of their cheap costs and good attitudes. There is nothing wrong with what Rangers is doing, they’re just trying to compete with their modest budget; the wrongdoing has all come from the Americans.

Carlos Bocanegra isUSA’s captain and Edu and Bedoya are two of their best young players, why are they settling for a league as poor as the Scottish Premier League? Obviously they are getting paid pretty well and have a shot at the Champion’s League nearly every year, but is that alone worth playing 10 teams no better than Toronto FC every week while getting the occasional good game against Celtic? I say no.

I never realized how little parity there was in Scotland until I looked it up. Last year Celtic and Rangers combined for just 9 losses in 72 games, but if you don’t count games they played against each other, it was just 6 losses in 69 games. The year before that, there were just 9 losses not counting their games. Celtic and Rangers have lost in league play just 15 times outside of the Old Firm in two years. The point gap between them and the rest of the league was 18 points in 2009-10 and 29 points last year. At least in England there are 3-4 dominant teams and everyone can win at home.

Need a further example of why Scotlandisn’t a good career choice? A great one lies in the career of the SPL’s all time leading goal scorer: Kris Boyd. Between 2000 and 2010 Boyd has scored an astonishing 164 goals in just 296 SPL games for Kilmarnock and Rangers, a record of better than one goal every two games. After the 2010 season Boyd decided to try his luck abroad and went to…wait for it…Middlesborough in the English Championship (2nd division). You would expect a goal scorer like this to have dominated the second division. Boyd proceeded to score 6 goals in 27 games before being loaned out to Nottingham Forest, also of the Championship. While Boyd did score 6 goals in just 10 games for them, it was still in the Championship. Oh, and Boyd wasn’t some washed up player, he was 26 that season.

The Scottish Premier League is currently ranked as the 16th best league in Europe behind such powerhouses as the Austrian Bundesliga (Nate Jaqua scored 5 goals in 13 games in the Austrian Bundesliga) and the Swiss Super League. These rankings are accurate because they are calculated based the play of each country’s teams in the Champions and Europa Leagues. All these players would be better off in MLS, and they know it, but they are getting paid in Scotland, something that MLS couldn’t do until now. Luckily MLS instituted a new amendment that will let teams sign players like Edu and Bedoya (though not Bocanegra) and keep them in a better place instead of sending them off to the wasteland that is Scotland. All the details of this amendment can be found here.

  1. Ross says:

    Wasteland that is Scotland? Oh dear.

    I find it laughable that you can count the MLS above any league in Europe. A home for past it stars or those who have failed to make it elsewhere.

    You talk like Edu is too good for Rangers, well clearly you haven’t watched a single minute of game time. He had an extremely poor season last year and hasn’t started great this year. He came to Rangers as a fringe US player, he is now one of your leading players. Yeah, the SPL is bad for players. Claudio Reyna taken from relative obscurity with Wolfsburg by his own admission became a better player playing in Scotland.

    You clearly lack any knowledge of football outside of the USA and quite frankly I feel embarrassed for you and your extreme naivety.

    Players need to develop, and they have to leave the USA to do so. By playing at a successful club like Rangers they gain not only a winning mentality but the ability to play under extreme pressure. You HAVE to win every game. In the MLS you pander so much to traditional North American sports that the league structure does not mean winning every week is a must.

    You point out Kris Boyd, what you fail to mention is that 3 months into his Middlesbrough career the manager who signed him left. He then moved to a team which he helped push into a play off place.

    You also fail to mention the money paid for David Goodwillie, now in the Premiership. Or how about John Ruddy, now a EPL Goalkeeper with Norwich. Or the fact that top English clubs like Arsenal, Manchester City and others send their players on loan to the Scottish league to gain much valued experience and mental toughness. I don’t see them sending players to the footballing boneyard that is the MLS.

    The MLS is that good that Edson Buddle, who’s scored nearly 1 in 2 for the Galaxy, is now headlining in….. the German 2nd division in mid table obscurity.

    Bedoya failed to win moves to the Premiership. Rangers will give him the platform to improve and to move on, if he proves himself.

    And as any player who has played for either Rangers or Celtic will tell you, there is no harder testing ground.

    Hopefully when you make your next comment on Scottish football you will have actually have some objectivity to your post than a blinkered, ill thought out and ill informed view that would be expected from a 12 year old.

    • Some good points here. You are correct about me not knowing much about the Scottish Premier League other than what I have researched. I didn’t mean to imply that any US players have been “too good for Rangers”. What I was trying to get across with this article is that I think that more US players should be aiming for leagues that are more competitive if not domestically, at least internationally. For example, I would like it if more players went to Holland to play, a league that is in my opinion better at developing players. I agree that players need to leave USA to develop, and no offense, but I don’t think Scotland is the right place.

      Thank you for telling me about other players that have had success after coming to Scotland! One example I had in mind in this article was Gattuso, but I didn’t mention him because he, like Claudio Reyna, played in the SPL a long time ago, when to my knowledge (which may be incorrect) it was a stronger league.

      Your point about Buddle is fair, however in LA he had Donovan and Beckham setting him up for goals while in the 2 Bundelsiga he doesn’t have the same quality of players setting him up.

      As your last comment suggests, offended you, which wasn’t my point and if you do feel offended I apologize. I’m just saying that I want USMNT players joining leagues of a higher standard than Scotland; even someone in your own forum said that the standard there wasn’t great.

      Please feel free to leave any additional comments though comparing me to a 12 year old is a bit uncalled for. Thank you for your post!

      -Evan Ream

  2. Graciano says:

    The league of Scotland may not be the best an it has a lot of poor points but it plays home to two of the most historic franchises in world soccer in the Rangers and Celtics. You need to show some respect. The league of Scotland also is a good and viable step to showcase your skills for younger players and one day make it to the bigger european leagues. To instantly dismiss it on stats and league tables is not smart and to throw in your “only to get paid” comment is rather stupid since the MLS only attracts good european players who are also looking for one last payday.

    • I agree that I probably should have shown more respect to Rangers and Celtic, but I disagree with your last comment. The difference in MLS is that players (at least before new amendments were made to the Designated Player rule yesterday) is that here we have young US players like Bedoya and Edu that are looking to get paid instead of old veterans. There is no way MLS would or could have offered Bocanegra a contract near to what he’s getting at Rangers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There’s no doubt in my mind the MLS has surpassed the SPL in terms of overall quality. But at the same time, the gap isn’t THAT big, so I don’t really think this is that bad a move, esp to one of the Big 2.

  4. Gaz says:

    The two players you have mentioned in your articles (USA internationalists) in Maurice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley both struggled at Ibrox. Beasley eventually being released from contract, and Edu in the eyes of most Rangers fans should be sitting on the bench, in favour of the 2 younger Scottish midfielders who over the past two season have shown alot more in their ability than Edu has managed. Considering then, that these two are always in the international set-up, the Scottish league can’t be that bad. Players looking for pay-days, one must only look at the likes of Thierry Henry, and just recently Robbie Keane now heading out there. The Scottish League (Rangers/Celtic) is a good league for young players to move to with the view to improving and furthering themselves.

    The first area they will find, is that with either Rangers/Celtic, they will have use of one of the best training facilities in Europe. This can be nothing but useful for their development as footballers, this coupled with the must-win attitude demanded in Scotland, and the game being very physical, they gain both mental and physical strength. Failure to reach the later stages in Europe is also not common at either Rangers or Celtic (although in the past 10 years there has been a few horror showings), with both making the last 16 of the Champions League in the last decade, Rangers making the UEFA Cup final in 2008, and the last 16 of the Europa League last season. This is hardly signs of “poor sides” quite the opposite infact.

    Players whom have gone from Scotland in recent times to the EPL, in recent times and looked good there is of quite a large number. Charlie Adam, Steven Fletcher, Alan Hutton, Barry Ferguson (although is now with relegated Blackpool). This could be added to the likes of Craig Gordon (although through in injuries has fallen out of favour), Darren Fletcher (a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side) amongst others playing in the Championship (another league better than the MLS), to show the strength of Scottish Football, as all these players have plied their trade in the Scottish Leagues and moved on to one of the strongest leagues in World Football.

    Other players having moved from Rangers/Celtic in the last decade to make a proper impact on the World Game, include Henrik Larsson, Giovanni VanBronckhorst and Mikel Arteta. All very well known players, 2 of whom have recently retired (although VanBronckhorst being very recently, featuring in the 2010 World Cup for Holland).

    To call Scottish Football a wasteland is very niave, maybe you should try watching the football from Rangers/Celtic, domestically and in Europe before writing an article, because it shows a lack of respect and as you should be quite aware, failing to research properly leaves you open to ridicule.

    Keep an eye on Rangers, and the players that the USA players are playing along side, I think you’ll find that the 3 USA players on the books will be far from the stand-out players for Rangers, infact Bocanega was only looked at after several targets failed, which suggests he is a fair bit down on the Rangers managers wish list, if he is the man given the arm-band to wear for the USA, that in turn then suggests that the quality of players the 3 USA players will be playing alongside, and against must be of a decent standard.

    • Beasley, from what I saw, struggled with injuries later in his career in the SPL, but when he first went there he was one of their best players. I recall a game where Rangers beat Lyon 3-0, I think in France, and Beasley had a hand in all 3 goals. After that he kind of dropped off and wasn’t really used for USA (he hasn’t scored for us since 2008). I am less aware with Edu’s struggles. All I know is that he gets on the score sheet fairly often and plays a lot when healthy despite the fact that he isn’t a clear starter for USA. The Rangers fans that I have talked to seem to think that these two players are first choice for USA when they’re most definitely not. Beasley peaked in 2005 with PSV and Edu is stuck behind Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Kyle Beckerman and Jose Torres in our midfield (though I prefer him to Jones).

      Obviously I can’t refute your Champions/Europa League facts but I would like to point out that both Fulham and Middlesborough recently made the Europa League final so I woudn’t rate that tournament TOO high, though the final is an accomplishment that shouldn’t be ignored.

      There definitely has been a few players that have gone from Scotland and had success in better leagues, though I would like to see a comparison of the amount of impact players that came from Scotland to the amount that have come from other smaller leagues in Europe like the Dutch and Portuguese leagues.

      I would like to refute your contention that the Championship is better than MLS. Every coach that I have heard comment on the subject says that the leagues are about the same. Steve Nichol thinks so for one example: while a few other well respected (though admittedly American) journalists have suggested that LA, Dallas and Seattle (and possibly Salt Lake) could play in the premier league and possibly not be relegated.

      Lastly, you say that the US players on Rangers may not be that great, and you might be correct. I expect Bocanegra will be good, though he’s getting up there in years. Boca played well at Fulham and for two teams in France, but as for Bedoya, I’m not a fan. I don’t think Bedoya should be called up for USA ever and I don’t think he will be in the Klinsmann era. Edu is a substitute at best.

      Thank you for your honest and polite comments.

      -Evan Ream

  5. Rangers Loyal says:

    The Scottish League has two of the biggest clubs in the world. That’s pretty impressive from a country with a population of 5.5 million.

    Both clubs compete in Europe each year and have both been in European finals in recent years. The SPL is a tough physical league and you need to be very good to win here.

    At Rangers the pressure is to win every game. A draw is almost as bad a loss so the pressure is on every game.

    • Worth a Hearty Chuckle says:

      Scottish teams have been all but shit in European competitions. Didn’t Scotland just get passed by Cyprus in the UEFA Coefficient?

  6. Archie says:

    I used to live in Glasgow, I’m Scottish-American, and I’ve got nothing but respect for the Old Firm, but let’s be realistic here. Rangers and Celtic are considered big clubs for two reasons–history and support. I hate to say it, but calling them two of the biggest teams in the world is kind of a stretch these days. In terms of revenue? Sure, but it certainly isn’t based on results. Is it remarkable that these clubs are from country with 5.5 million people? Absolutely. But I think that’s beside the point in this debate.

    That said, I don’t think most Americans are necessarily questioning the quality of Rangers or Celtic, but rather the quality of the SPL teams outside of the Old Firm. Rangers are expected to win every week because they’re playing a lot of poor teams. Yes, they play in Europe every year, but I’d say that their track record is pretty spotty recently, outside of a couple of good runs.

    I always hope that the American exports will make it to one of the top four or five leagues, but I don’t think that Rangers is a bad place for them at all. I think some hoped that Bedoya would go to a bigger league, but I would say it’s definitely a step up for him. I think that Mo Edu is better off at Rangers than in MLS, regardless of whether or not he’s a star at Rangers. The SPL is a step down from France for Bocanegra, but he’s getting older, so why not take a shot at some Champions League action?

    The idea that some are suggesting that Americans are struggling at Rangers while starring for the USA is kind of funny. Edu is probably 6th in the pecking order at his position for the US, and Beasely has been a fringe player (at best) for the US since his time at Rangers. He definitely peaked while at PSV. Reyna was one of the best Americans in his prime, but I always got the impression that he did well during his time at Rangers.

    And the Edson Buddle example…yes, he’s languishing in Germany, and was scoring left and right in MLS, but I don’t think most people rate him here. He had the benefit of playing for the best team in the league, with the service of Donovan and Beckham. We’re extremely short at striker and he still rarely gets called in. For every Edson Buddle, there are plenty of players that were good-but-not-great MLS players that head to Europe and actually seem to do better over there. And there are plenty of good players that come here from Europe with the expectation of dominating the league, and do absolutely nothing. I’m not saying that MLS teams could compete in the EPL. I have no idea how MLS compares to different European leagues. But I do think that it’s probably a bit underrated outside of North America. Not surprising since it’s a very young league.

    • Great to see some perspective from someone who has witnessed both sides first hand! Thank you for you insight on the matter. I can definitely say that I agree with most of what you just said.

      -Evan Ream

  7. Mike Caramba says:

    A point I feel is being lost here: professional soccer players don’t plan career moves altruistically to benefit American fans/the National Team. If they’re doing it for a bigger paycheck, can you really blame them? They have relatively short careers and must strike while the iron is hot. Perhaps they want to earn those bigger paychecks in an English-speaking country. Maybe they want the opportunity to live abroad. Or it might be Champions League soccer they’re looking for. There are plenty of reasons Edu, Bocanegra, and Bedoya might want to play for Rangers. While I would selfishly like to see these guys starring for bigger clubs, in bigger leagues, I can’t blame them for their decisions. I’m sure they’re much more complicated than my fairly straight-forward interests. And I agree with Archie — Rangers isn’t a terrible place to be.

    • This is a point I neglected to include in my article. Obviously you’re correct, the players may want to be in Glasgow for those reasons, not to help the national team, but maybe that itself is another problem; that they don’t want what’s best for the national team?

      -Evan Ream

      • Mike Caramba says:

        I’m not sure. I have no doubt these guys love playing for the Nats/want to play for the Nats/try their hardest when they do, but is the USMNT on the front of their mind when they’re making career decisions? My guess is no, but I can’t say with certainty. While I’m a Nats fan first and foremost, I suspect caps are a bonus for these guys, while their club career is their bread and butter.

        Another point I didn’t make is that we don’t know all of the options they had in front of them. If Bedoya had the option of going to a mid-level Prem or decent Dutch team, I’d agree his choice in Rangers was pretty short-sighted. But if he’s sitting in the Orebro clubhouse and the only club that comes calling is Rangers, I can’t really blame him for jumping on it.

        One final point. I think you’ve correctly identified a lot of the reasons a move to the SPL is less than ideal, but I think we shouldn’t forget that a lot of seemingly good moves have turned out bad, and a lot of seemingly bad moves have turned out well. I think most fans were reasonably pleased with Freddy Adu going Benfica or Eddie Johnson to Fulham. We see how those moved worked out. On the other hand, Oguchi Onyewu’s move to Standard seemed, well, sub-standard at the time, yet he ended up flourishing there. Even though these moves to Rangers are less-than-perfect on paper, who knows — the move might end up helping one or two…maybe all three of them, in the end.

      • I have to agree that Rangers is probably more ideal than Orebro, though I’m not totally sure. Obviously Sweden’s league doesn’t do as well in European competition, but the league seems to be more competitive based on the fact that more than two teams have actually won it. Furthermore Sweden’s national team is miles ahead of Scotland’s. I don’t really know what that has to do with anything, but I feel that it warrants mentioning. Yes, there have been failed moves in the past, though I think the reason for the failure was the quality of the player, not the league in question.

        A lot of people have been saying that my point of Scotland’s league not being competitive is a poor one because only two teams can win in Spain and about three or four in England. I would like to refute this point by saying that though it is true that in those countries only a few teams can win, the 2nd tier teams in those leagues do well internationally. Liverpool has never won the premier league but they have been one of the best teams in the Champion’s League since its inception.

        -Evan Ream

  8. Mike Caramba says:

    I think my point about success/failures was a little unclear. I don’t at all blame Benfica/Portugal or Fulham/England for the struggles of Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson, respectively. I was just pointing out that players can make moves to good clubs/leagues and fail, and they can make moves to mediocre clubs/leagues and succeed. While you might be right to be skeptical of these Rangers moves, I’m just saying that floundering isn’t a foregone conclusion. I certainly hope for the best (as I’m sure you do).

    No argument from me about the SPL being uncompetitive. (Though, it’s worth pointing out that Rangers play the few quality teams more often since the league is so small, not that that makes up for the lack of parity.)

    Re: Liverpool. Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but Liverpool have won the league more times (18) than any team other than Man Utd (19). Regardless, you’re correct in pointing out that the second tier in England are competitive internationally.

    • Mike Caramba says:

      Just occurred to me that you’re probably regarding the Prem and First Division as two different things, so…I’ll take back the last part.

      • I think were mostly in agreement with our points here and yes I was referring to them as two different things. I don’t know how it is viewed overseas and I know its not really fair to discount past accomplishments but it does happen. For example, fair or not fair, in the NFL no one really cares about what happened before the Super Bowl. Thanks again for your comments.

        -Evan Ream

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