The MLS has continuously grown over the last decade, and this doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. Well known performers on the European stage, Sebastian Giovinco and Giovani Dos Santos has now consistently impressed since crossing the Atlantic to pursue careers in North America, and while their moves surprised many, have they started a new trend in the transfer market?
Let’s talk about the league across the pond, Major League Soccer. The top league of North America is growing, there’s no doubt about that, but just how good is it? It’s no secret that many ageing European stars including some of the biggest stars of the last decade have chosen to continue/end their careers in America. David Beckham was the first but since he started the trend Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Steven Gerrard, Kaká, Frank Lampard, Robbie Keane, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo are the most high profile stars to follow him to America. All of them have had significant impacts on their teams since arriving. Now, the question that pops up in my mind is could they still be doing that if they had remained in Europe?
With loan spells from the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls for Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry to Aston Villa and Arsenal respectively during their time in America, it was proven that they could still do the business in arguably the best league in the world, albeit not in the same manner as they once could. What I’m trying to do is use these players as measuring sticks. They aren’t the players they once were, but these stars still put up impressive statistics in this new league. They aren’t surrounded by the same caliber of players as they were in Europe, which is surely frustrating at times, but they are doing well to lead the players that have surely watched them on TV for years. Let’s take a look at the players who have chosen a move to America before being at the end of their careers.
At the moment, Sebastian Giovinco is scoring goals for fun and making defenders look silly. He never accomplished this at Juventus however he was no flop either and many people were surprised (myself included) to see him head for the Canadian team Toronto FC instead of another Serie A team. Another talent who has headed West is Giovani Dos Santos. He plays for the Galaxy alongside Keane and Gerrard and has already recorded a few goals for his new club. It seemed strange to see him go to the MLS just as he was finding his footing in La Liga, but it was an impressing signing for the league as a whole This could be the trend that the MLS needs to reach a new level. The ageing stars are a novelty, something fun to see for young Americans who only know who the big name players are. I would be willing to bet the average American soccer fan had maybe heard of Sebastian Giovinco before he started terrorizing MLS defenders. But had they heard of Thierry Henry? Of course. It’s not that the older players are only there for circus acts, but the thing that will grow the league will be the recruitment of players in their prime or even before their prime.
A MLS team has never won the CONCACAF Champions League, the most prestigious club tournament for North American teams. It has been dominated by Mexican clubs thus far, but you just wait. Give the MLS time. My prediction is that in 20 years time, the MLS will be the biggest league in the world with the most money, attracting the biggest players and filling the biggest stadiums in the world. Americans love sports but soccer hasn’t caught on just yet. But wait, and watch, and soon the MLS will be what the NFL is but on a global scale. Giovinco and Giovani is just the start.
This article was written by American footballer/coach/writer @EddyPrugh