The MLS: League Growing in Stature or Exile For Past Greats?

So, good old Frank Lampard is the latest to move across to the states as he signs for New York City FC. The sister club to Manchester City. But will NYCFC be able to dominate their domestic league as much as City have over the past few years (2 league titles in 3 seasons)? It all depends on transfers, squad morale and ultimately results.

Having to wait until 2015 for their debut season in the MLS, New York are currently building a team they believe can challenge to go all the way in the big apples’ maiden campaign. However, it’s more big name signings rather than players in their prime.

Don’t get me wrong. David Villa and Frank Lampard are quality players. But they are well beyond their best. Villa was the main man at Valencia and in his early Barcelona days before the terrible leg break in 2011. He didn’t have the hugest impact at Atletico Madrid last season and hopes for a fresh start in NYC. If he can be as prolific as before his injury, New York will do well next season.

Frank Lampard has been Chelsea’s best player of the past 10 years. He constantly hit 20 goals a season and became Chelsea’s all time leading goal scorer last season with a couple of strikes at Aston Villa. In the past few seasons though he has been restricted to fewer appearances at Stamford Bridge then he would of like. Lampard is 36 years of age and is nearing the finishing line of a glorious and successful career, a MLS title with NYC will top it all off.

Compared to sister club city, they don’t spend big and don’t buy the big name stars of today. Manchester City have splashed out on Aguero, Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas in the past few years. They have had successful managers like Roberto Mancini and current boss Manuel Pellegrini. NYC have a rather unknown boss.

Away from Manchester City and New York, another big name will be playing in the MLS next season. Kaka has joined Orlando, again another star who has gone past his prime years. He was player of the year in 2007 when he helped AC Milan win the Champions League, which earned him a big summer switch to Real Madrid in 2009. Similar to Villa, serious knee injuries made his career at the Bernabeu a tough time, and when he rejoined Milan, he failed to make a similar impact to his first stint in Italy.

I guess what I’m trying to get to here is that the MLS is growing and becoming much more recognisable. However, the stars which will embrace the states over the next year or so are older, and much more experienced. Henry, Defoe, Donavan, Kaka, Villa and Lampard have all had their prime years behind them and although they are good players, better players are still playing in the much better leagues on the planet. The Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the Eredivisie are all leagues that compared to the MLS have more quality, and it may still be a few years before the MLS can be considered one of the best leagues in the world.

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