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The next great U.S. Soccer player – guaranteed!

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Also file under: don’t get carried away with Yura Movsisyan madness

We supporting members of the U.S. Soccer scene – officials, fans and media alike –can be a funny breed sometime.

Far too often, the greatest U.S. soccer player ever to bend a blade of grass is the one we don’t have yet. 

We see it time and again. It’s not a bit unlike the phenomenon I witnessed frequently in my former life as a sports reporter covering a wider variety of the perspiring arts. In American football, it’s fairly common knowledge that the consensus pick for best quarterback on the team is often the No. 2.

It makes some sense, too. Fans have yet to witness the No. 2 in action at that level. So they fall back on what the man accomplished on a less lit stage, and they assume that translates to assured success moving forward. It’s also about “hope,” of course, which we all know is a good thing, “maybe the best thing,” because we’ve all seen Shawshank Redemption 16 times.

So, back to soccer and presumptions of impending awesomeness. Remember when Michael Orozco was going to be the next great U.S. defender? Some fans on message boards were apoplectic that U.S. coach Bob Bradley wouldn’t give this budding superstar his chance! Darn that Bradley and his clearly flawed ability to assess world class ability!

That was back when he played for San Luis in Mexico. Now he’s known as Michael Orozco Fiscal, he plays for Philadelphia and he’s an average MLS defender. I see little in his game that suggests the 24-year-old is bound for national team greatness.

Let’s see, who else? Oh, yes … Danny Szetela. He was definitely bound for super stardom. He was … right? Well, he certainly was if you believed the breathless rhetoric coming from some prominent media platforms along the East Coast.

Media hype definitely plays its part in feeding the cycle.

Well, uh, someone send me an email if they know where Szetela is today.

How about Lee Nguyen, who spent two years at PSV in Holland? His professional career has taken Nguyen toVietnam, and he’s hopelessly far down in the U.S. depth chart.

Anyone remember Johann Smith, a speedy track star in soccer shorts?

Here’s where I’m going with all this: I see the early development of the “next best syndrome” in Yura Movsisyan.

Movsisyan, 23, was Armenian born but came to the United States about nine years ago. He spent four years in MLS with Kansas City and then at Real Salt Lake. He is now with Randers, doing well in the Danish League.

And we’re starting to hear a few calls for him to get into the U.S. national team fold. The pleas are getting louder, amplified by the flagging lack of impact forwards in the U.S. national team scene at the moment. So before anyone gets carried away here, let’s just think about this a little.

I saw the majority of Movsisyan’s matches in MLS, and here’s something everyone should know: he’s got talent and speed, and that will always give a player a chance. But he’s also one of these guys who possess that confounding ability, when it comes to the critical moment in an offensive surge, to make the wrong choice almost every time.

He shoots when he should pass, dribbles when he should shoot and only occasionally passes, albeit frequently to the wrong target. But don’t believe me. Look at the data:

Movsisyan had 20 goals in 81 league matches. That’s not terrible, but it’s hardly a prodigious strike rate in MLS.

Consider that Robbie Findley’s strike rate is better at 27 goals in 91 MLS matches. And we’ve seen that Findley, at least at this point in his career, is not up to the job internationally.

Movsisyan may be headed to the Armenian national team anyway. But I would wager my autographed Pele soccer ball that someone in the blogosphere, playing to populist sentiment, will criticize U.S. Soccer for not aggressively pursuing Movsisyan.

He’ll be seen as the one who got away.

When you see that sentiment roll across your screen … and you almost surely will somewhere … be sure to douse it with a heaping helping of good, old fashioned skepticism.