MLS = My Last Stop for Premier League Stars

With the move of Chelsea legend, Frank Lampard, to New York City FC, some think that this may be the start of a talent coup in the MLS. Frank Lampard may agree. “We’re here to play serious football, serious soccer and try to win something,” he said. “This will be a great experience for me, I hope, and it certainly isn’t playing on the beach. “I’ve seen what MLS has done, the improvements over the years, the quality of players. That perception (that MLS is a cakewalk league) is dated. I think that has changed now,” Lampard said. Agreed, I do believe the MLS has made great strides in talent over the years, but I wish Lampard would call the MLS what it is for such Premier League legends as himself, Thierry Henry, David Beckham, and Tim Cahill. It’s a profitable path out of the bitter English limelight and a hedge on their retirement. That’s not to say that former EPL stars don’t enjoy the MLS. But, Thierry Henry has commented on his time in America and he never completely credits his arrival to MLS quality. In a New York Times article from 2012, Henry’s lack of notoriety in the US in mentioned.

“One weekend afternoon this spring, Henry left his SoHo apartment, headed west on his bicycle and rode uptown along the Hudson River. No one, besides his doorman, recognized him. No one ran up asking for an autograph. No one bothered him. For Henry, it was the latest example of his personal bliss. He slips in and out of his place on Crosby Street, able to disappear into the chaos of the Village if he wants and to take his 7-year-old daughter to Sarabeth’s for cupcakes when she is in town without creating a major media incident. “These things would never happen in Europe,” Henry said, “never in a million years. Never, never, never.”

It’s noted that Henry turned down a handful of offers from European clubs when he left Barcelona in 2010. He was much maligned after his handball that led France to a World Cup birth in 2010. Some suggest racism might’ve had something to do with him leaving. But, what can be concluded is that Henry simply, probably, wanted to get out from the microscope of the world’s most popular sport on a continent where it’s a way of life.

Frank Lampard’s move also outlines another common theme that Premier League imports share: they’re moving to our most popular cities. Lampard, Henry, and Cahill are in New York. Beckham was in Los Angeles. I’ve heard great things about Sporting Kansas City’s fanbase. It must be awesome playing at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. But how badly does an international want to relocate there? I don’t even want to relocate to either of those cities.

Does the influx of talent from England improve the quality of play in the MLS? Yes.Does it increase interest in the league from fringe fans? Absolutely. But, does it really increase the leagues viability for the future development of American soccer players? I don’t think so. The MLS needs a more long term solution to the opportunity that soccer in America has produced. Do I have the answer to that? No, but I can bring in someone who does.

Filed under: EPL Soccer

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    Ben Miklavcic

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