If you don't know much about English club Burnley FC, it might be because the small club has spent the past 23 years outside of the English top flight. That drought ended last spring when Burnley earned promotion to the English Premier League.
The club has plans to stay in the top flight and grander plans to establish new sources of talent to help make that happen, and one of Burnley's ideas is to establish feeder clubs in the United States, with the hope of uncovering some gems on this side of the pond.
Hearing of foreign clubs trying to establish roots in the United States can often draw mixed reactions. There are those who are happy to hear that American players may wind up having more opportunities to move abroad, but then there are those who believe that having foreign clubs mining for young American talent can hurt American soccer by stunting the growth of Major League Soccer.
Burnley doesn't seem to have quite grand enough plans to make something like that happen. The club is starting out small, with events like its recent friendly vs. the Ventura County Fusion. While Burnley's plans seem modest enough, there has been plenty of talk about larger European clubs trying to develop academies and feeder teams in the United States.
Should MLS be worried about more foreign clubs looking to set roots in the United States? The reality is that the league's current 14 American clubs just can't cover a country the size of the United States. That will remain the same even after cities like Philadelphia and Portland come aboard. If foreign clubs can come in and help fill the gaps in player development that currently exists, gaps that are closing somewhat thanks to the growth of U.S. Soccer's Premier Development Academy, then young American talent can only benefit. Yes, there can always be concerns about the exploitation of young American talent by unscrupulous clubs and talent scouts, but those are issues that can be policed.
What do you think of Burnley's vision? Like the idea of foreign clubs setting up shop in the United States? Wishing MLS would step up its player development initiative? Think the more Americans going abroad the better?
Share your thoughts below.