You might call me crazy. You might call me insane. However I feel that the MLS will one day be viewed upon as a top league in the world. Here’s how the MLS will one day rival leagues such as the EPL, Bundesliga and Serie A.
With the signing of David Beckham this past year, and international greats such as Blanco, Fred, Emilio and Angel, the MLS has been thrust onto the world scene and is now getting noticed. I will say that the play in the MLS is not that of the EPL or other top leagues in the world, however it is better than most professional leagues around the world. With the international appeal now being cast, it will soon attract top stars that are willing and able to bring the league onto the front of great professional football.
With the new “Designated Player” rule, it allows the MLS teams to allocate a certain amount of money to the signing of a player that would require more funds than most. This rule became effective with the signing of Beckham and has been known around the league as the “Beckham Rule”. With more sponsors and more money coming into the teams it will allow the MLS owners to buy world renowed talent to come and play in America. If the play is sufficient, what is stopping a Ronaldinho or Wayne Rooney to experience America and play in its league? With this new rule it makes that a strong possibility.
The talent that is now coming into the MLS is that of a generation raised on soccer and World Cups. Many would argue that soccer became really big in the US during the 1994 World Cup, and there is not an arguement to that point. However soccer has long been the most participated sport among American youth, the 1994 World Cup allowed the parents of this generation to accept a “Non-American” sport into the realm of reality. After 1994 the beautiful game was here to stay in America. Now seventeen years later the sport has a strong league, and these players that grew up playing soccer are now given an opportunity to advance on the World’s stage.
Unfortunately to this day, the rest of the world views the MLS as a “Mickey Mouse” league where washed up stars will go to still be competitive long after their careers should have been finished. This perception will not change unless the league and owners are committed to getting top notch talent from around the world into the MLS, as well as “organically” growing their own American stars from the mix. Keeping US Soccer stars such as Clint Dempsey (who now plays in the EPL), Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, etc. in the league is a must. However the MLS has failed in this by letting the most expolosive player go to the EPL. Dempsey was one of the best players the MLS had, and by not being more competitive they let him slip away to the EPL and more “World Class Football”. Great for Dempsey and US Soccer, bad for the MLS.
The only issue that many will see in the MLS becoming a “World Class League” is that it will never be the number one sport in its own country, so how could it be considered a number one league anywhere else? Legitimate question, however I personally feel that the talent will come to the MLS, and once the talent comes the quality of play will come as well. Give it another five to ten years and the MLS will be a league that will deserve the respect that it so desperately desires right now.