October 8, 2008

Playing on the edge

We don't delve deep into the youth national teams here, there's plenty of other sites that do an excellent job covering them. However, the story that's broken on Carlos Martinez of the U17's got my attention today.

He starred during the Nike Friendlies with game winning goals. He doesn't turn 17 until January. He was being billed as the next "OMG, BEST AMERICAN PLAYER EVAR!!!!"

Unfortunately, all that's changed with his dismissal from the residency program in Bradenton for repeated breaking of team rules. His family is saying that he broke curfew on their last trip, which seemed to be the last straw.

What's next? Well, there's talk of MLS and foreign clubs. Right now, coach Wilmer Cabrera says there's "not a chance" for him to rejoin the youth national teams, but things can change in the future.

I don't want to sound the alarm bells just yet. It seems like this is a situation where a valuable lesson can be learned about discipline and commitment. It's easy to get caught up in the hype and think you're above the team, especially at that age.

The greatest players of all-time were always on the edge. The passion is so great, the responsibility and pressure can be overwhelming, it's really east to wipe out. But it seems that the best players have always been that way, look at Maradona's issues, look at Pele's partying (even though he tried to keep it under wraps), look at Ronaldinho and Robinho today. There's millions of stories about these issues with the greats.

The ones who can truly maximize their potential and abilities are the ones who can balance on the edge. It's not easy, and let's hope that young Carlos can learn that lesson.

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