MLS: A Dead League or Rising Platform?

Eddie Hudson, Cub News Writer

If soccer fans were told five years ago that Gareth Bale would be in the MLS playing in the championship game, they would’ve laughed in your face. In recent times, the MLS has been notorious for picking up players that have been “washed up” from the bigger European leagues. Super teams have been formed by rich owners in the American league by buying older talent like Gareth Bale and Georgio Chellini. Both of these players play for LAFC, one of the newest clubs in the MLS. Even though they are a fairly new franchise, they have one of the richest owner bases in the whole league. There is a trend of these high-profile players going to the more well-known cities within the US, but that is only because those teams are the richest. This trend of formerly well-regarded players coming over to the states happened even before the MLS was formed. Pelé, one of the best players to ever step on a soccer field, came over to play for the New York Cosmos in 1975. It was on the back end of his career, but it still held a lot of magnitude around the world and influenced big moves for big-name players to come over to the states today.

In the past 2 years, there have been more transfers than ever from Europe. The most recent and controversial move was the transfer of Riqui Puig from Barcelona. He was known in Europe for being a part of one of the biggest clubs in the world, and at the very young age of 23, he decided to shock the world and make the move to the MLS to play for the LA Galaxy. This transfer was probably of the highest magnitude because he was so young. Beforehand, every transfer to the states involved older players who had already given their best years to the game. But this one was different. Puig wanted to set a new standard for young players from Europe not to be afraid to move to the States and play because the level of play isn’t as bad as critics make it out to be.

Even though a lot of players from overseas come to play in the MLS to settle for the end of their careers, there now is a new wave of young talent trying to break that stigma and bring the level of play just that much higher in the United States.