MLS Daily: Columbus win again, Minnesota grab first ever MLS victory and Galaxy thrashed in Vancouver.

29 goals have been scored in the MLS this weekend. 

Columbus Crew continue their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 victory against Orlando City at the Mapfre stadium.

Justin Meram scored twice for Gregg Berhalter’s men, as they stretched their winning run to three successive matches.

The Iraqi international netted his first with a low shot into the bottom right corner inside the opening 15 minutes. He then doubled his and his team’s lead in a similar fashion on 76 minutes.

“He’s flying,” Crew SC captain Wil Trapp told mlssoccer.com.

“He’s on another level when he’s confident. He’s been contributing in every single game this year. I think him signing that new deal and getting his footing underneath him and being able to move forward without anything hanging over his head has really been good.”

Minnesota United finally had something to cheer about after a tough start in their debut season in MLS.

A brace from Christian Ramirez, along with goals from Kevin Molino and Johan Venegas helped the Loons to a 4-2 victory over free-falling Real Salt Lake.

RSL, who will now be managed by Mike Petke following the result in Minnesota, have not won a match all season.

“It’s tough when you’re away and don’t finish your chances,” Yura Movsisyan told the Desert News. “It comes back to bite you, and that’s what happened. The last few weeks have been difficult. A new season starts next week with a new coach.

“It won’t matter who you are, whether you’re a designated player or not. If you train well and impress the coach, you’ll play. If not, you shouldn’t.”

Another team struggling for consistency is LA Galaxy, after they were beaten 4-2 in Vancouver.

Despite Romain Alessandrini’s brace which gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at half-time, the Whitecaps scored three second half goals to grab their maiden win this season.

Galaxy sit tenth in the Western Conference, and captain Jelle Van Damme admitted that losing from a winning position was not good enough.

“There were too many mistakes today. We weren’t playing well but we were leading and this cannot happen. You cannot lose a game 4-2 when your leading 2-1 with 20 minutes to go.

“We have to react next week. We have to relax, regroup, start over and do better.”

Elsewhere, Bastian Schweinsteiger scored on his MLS debut as Chicago Fire drew 2-2 with Montreal Impact, and New York City returned to winning ways after they beat San Jose 2-1 at Yankee Stadium.

Erick Torres grabbed a hattrick as Houston Dynamo thrashed New York Red Bulls 4-1. In the capital, DC United won for the first time this season, beating Philadelphia Union 2-1.

Toronto were held to a 0-0 draw in their home opener against Sporting KC, whilst Seattle’s match against Atlanta also finished goalless.

 

MLS Daily: Bradley Wright-Phillips is worthy of his new deal at New York Red Bulls.

The former Charlton Athletic striker has become a sensation across the pond. 

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been rewarded with a new lucrative contract at New York Red Bulls following his impressive spell in the MLS.

It’s nothing more than what the striker deserves. The Red Bulls have relied on him heavily for their goals, making him a vital asset for the team. The deal marks another positive chapter in the 32-year old’s career, one that originally took a long time to get into gear.

Wright-Phillips struggled to make a name for himself in English football, and following spells with Manchester City, Southampton and Charlton Athletic, he decided upon a move to America in an attempt to rebrand himself.

His father, former-Arsenal striker Ian Wright, was always going to be a tough act to follow. From the outset, many wondered if he would ever reach the same level as his dad, but finally we seem to have an answer.

Whilst he may not still be a household name here in the UK, he has more than certainly stamped his mark on the Red Bulls and the MLS.

He is the club’s all-time top goalscorer in America’s top division with an impressive 70 goals in 111 games, an average of one goal every 63 minutes.

Wright-Phillips has also broken plenty of records and received many accolades during his four-year spell in the States.

On 23 April 2014, he scored a hattrick in a 4–0 win against Houston Dynamo, which meant he became the first Englishman to score three goals in an MLS game. He also won the golden boot that season after scoring 27 league goals.

Subsequently, he was signed on as a designated player in 2015, and a year later secured his second MLS golden boot award after netting 24 goals during the campaign. He is the only player ever in MLS to score 20+ goals in more than a single season.

Whilst he lost his DP status in 2016, is it just deserved he get it back this season. He is a club legend, and he will be for some time. That goal record is as impressive as any in world football, and at 32 years of age, you can expect him to possibly extend it to 100+ goals in a Red Bulls shirt.

He is a typical striker who gets into the right positions at the right time to score goals. He is good with either foot and with his head. He causes all kinds of problems for the opposing defence throughout the 90 minutes, and that’s what makes him such a crucial weapon in Red Bulls’ arsenal.

“I’d like to thank Jesse Marsch, and everyone at the club for the opportunity to continue wearing this shirt and playing in front of the best fans in MLS,’ BWP said to the media.

‘I am very proud of what has been accomplished in my time here, But my sole focus is on trying to win MLS Cup.”

The Red Bulls won the Supporters Shield back in 2013 and 2015, but are yet to go all the way. However, with BWP still leading the line for this season and beyond, that could well change in the not too distant future.

 

 

 

 

MLS Daily: Minnesota United thrashed yet again on the road.

Adrian Heath’s side have conceded 18 goals in just four MLS games this season. 

Minnesota United are quickly becoming the whipping boys of the MLS.

Following on from their 5-1 defeat to Portland on the opening weekend and their 1-6 home loss to Atlanta United, the Loons went down 5-2 to New England Revolution yesterday.

Adrian Heath’s side again conceded early as Juan Agudelo met Chris Tierney’s cross with a free header inside four minutes.

Collen Warner equalised for the away side, but New England were soon ahead once again through Kei Kamara.

Lee Nguyen made it 3-1 from the penalty spot, with Agudelo netting his second just before half-time with a low shot.

Brent Kallman halved the deficit when he struck home a half volley three minutes into the second half, but another penalty was converted this time by Tierney to make it 5-2 to the hosts.

Twice Minnesota conceded just minutes after getting themselves back into the game. No team can expect to win games when they give away cheap goals so soon after scoring.

Offensively the Loons aren’t so bad. They have scored in each of their four matches so far. However, it is their fragile defence that is causing a lot of the problems.

They have conceded an average of 4.5 goals a game so far, and only have the single point so far this season from a possible 12.

Does Heath need to invest in some quality defenders? They are certainly missing a leader on the pitch. Someone that will keep the line, someone that will make sure that the defence is solid and will keep clean sheets. Whether that means signing a DP then so be it. They need to change something otherwise they will not survive in the MLS.

They may have been missing nine players through internationals and injuries, but the Head Coach was not impressed with his side in the opening 45.

“The first half was really, really poor defensively,” Heath told MNUFC.com after the game.

“Every time they attacked it looked like they were going to score.

“I thought we were a lot better in the second half, but it was a little bit too little, too late.”

As for the Revs, it is a first win of 2017 and another home opening victory.

Jay Heaps’ side are now unbeaten in 11 home openers, and after two tough away defeats at Colorado and Dallas, this could be the platform on which New England build upon this season.

New England’s Diego Fagundez praised teammate Agudelo after the game. He told press after the game that “If he makes good runs we will reward him and thats what we did. We can beat anybody in the league if we play like we did again.”

Agudelo added: “The mind set was really strong from the team. The coaches told us to come out flying at home. We wanted to win it inside the first 15 minutes and that’s exactly what we did.”

Elsewhere, Portland Timbers’ 100 percent start to the 2017 season is over after they lost 3-2 away at Columbus Crew.

Crew now overtake New York Red Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference, after Jesse Marsch’s side drew 0-0 at home to Real Salt Lake.

MLS Daily: Kenwyne Jones should step in for injured Josef Martinez at Atlanta United.

The former Sunderland and Stoke City striker has been waiting for his golden opportunity. 

Atlanta United were dealt a blow in midweek, after Josef Martinez went off injured while on International duty with Venezuela.

The in-form forward is top of the goalscoring charts in the MlS this season with five goals in just three games.

Martinez came off after falling when taking a shot, and Venezuela’s Head Coach Rafael Dudamel has suggested a minimum of 10 days rest for the player to recover. He will have a MRI scan tomorrow to determine the severity of this injury.

If 10 days proves to be an accurate assessment, that will mean the 23-year old will be more than likely to miss Atlanta’s match against Seattle Sounders next week.

However, Head Coach Tito Martina has got other weapons within his arsenal, one of which is the vastly experienced Kenwyne Jones.

The Trinidad and Tobago captain has a wealth of Premier League experience after spending a decade in and around England’s top flight with Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland and Cardiff City respectively.

Jones may not be the most prolific of strikers, but he does cause defenders enormous problems with his strength and aerial power.

He is a completely different type of striker in comparison to Martinez. Jones isn’t the fastest, and at 32 years of age, that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

He also isn’t as potent as the Venezuelan. In the last 10 seasons, the Trinidad international has only hit double digits twice in terms of goals scored. The last time being the 2014-15 season for Cardiff.

But his positioning, especially inside the penalty box, is excellent. He will often find himself in the right place at the right time when the ball is flirting around the oppositions goal. It’s a trait that is very difficult to teach.

He may not score bucket loads of goals, but he scores important ones.

The 32-year old’s hold up play and ability to start counter attacks almost goes unnoticed. He is an excellent team player, who can head the ball on from a goal kick or throw-in to create an opportunity for a teammate to test the keeper or even score.

Martinez has shown plenty of promise so far for the new MLS side, but there is no reason why Jones can’t either. He has been waiting in the shadows at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium for his chance to prove his worth to the manager, the fans and the city.

Whether he fits into Martina’s formation and tactics is another matter, but one that can’t be discussed without the Argentine giving him a go.

Perhaps he will use an alternative formation which would make Jones’ a greater asset. A switch from 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 might suit the Trinidad striker better. He could get isolated on his own up top so a strike partner that would run onto his flick ons or run down the channels to provide crosses for the 32-year-old wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

It’s whether Martina takes a gamble on changing what is a winning formation.

Many in Atlanta will hope Martinez will be fit in time for the Sounders match, but they shouldn’t worry too much if it is Jones starting at CenturyLink Field.

MLS Daily: Real Salt Lake in need of a revival after sacking Jeff Cassar.

Daryl Shore will act as Interim Head Coach until a replacement is found, and will manage the team against New York Red Bulls on Saturday. 

The sacking of Jeff Cassar on Monday evening ended what can be best described as a turbulent last six months at Real Salt Lake.

After nearly a decade at the Utah based club, the 43-year old became the first managerial casualty of the 2017 MLS season.

RSL are winless so far this campaign, with one win and two defeats to their name, but their torrid run actually stretches back to the end of last season.

A 2-1 win at home to Colorado Rapids on the 26th August was the last time this side tasted victory-that was 11 games ago.

The poor run saw them slip from second in the Western Conference to sixth. They were then beaten 2-1 to LA Galaxy in the knockout round.

With the dismissal of Cassar, RSL will hopefully rediscover their form from years back, when current Orlando City boss Jason Kreis was in charge.

Kreis led the club to the Play-Offs consecutively between 2008-2013, winning the MLS Cup in 2009.

Cassar was assistant manager to Kreis back then, before taking over when the latter left for New York City FC.

The 43-year old stuck to Kreis’ successful 4-4-2 in 2014, which resulted in another Play-Off finish, but things began to unravel a year later.

Trying to implement his own style, Cassar switched to a 4-3-3 formation. With the wrong personnel to fit the formation, and a lack of goals being scored, RSL failed to make the Play-Offs in 2015. That was followed by the painful 2016 season as mentioned above.

It’s quite clear that a revival is needed at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

The club, unlike others, is struggling to acquire high calibre players such as Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and latest MLS newcomer Bastian Schweinsteiger. With better players coming through, and the leagues standards continuously improving, there has never been a more crucial time for designated players to come in and make a real difference for their team. Unfortunately, those at RSL aren’t quite to the same level as those at New York City or Orlando.

The spine of the side also presents fears of a bleak future. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckermann, both part of the successful 2009 side, are coming towards the end of their careers at 37 and 34 years of age respectively. Javier Morales, the heart of RSL’s flowing attack, left at the end of last season.

Those players will ultimately need replacing with good, young talent. However, according to transfermarkt.com, RSL have the second oldest squad in the league. This is just an example of what needs to be addressed.

Saying that, one thing the club can pride itself in is it’s impressive youth development. Homegrown players like defender Justin Glad have intergraded well into the first team setup and are now vital for the team going forward. More of the same will mostly definitely help the team in future seasons.

In terms of a replacement for Cassar, Toronto’s Assistant Coach Robin Fraser is one of the favourites for the job. The former Chivas USA manager has previous ties to RSL and could be good for what the club are looking to do, which is to rebuild from the ground up.

Other names mentioned include Wade Barrett, Mike Petke and sensationally Sigi Schmid.

Whoever comes in will have a lot to do if they want to make this club great again, and fans may have to wait a few years down the line before they see their club competing for major honours once again.

MLS Daily: Bastian Schweinsteiger’s move to Chicago Fire is a scalp not just for the club, but also the league.

The former Germany captain has won the World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, multiple Bundesliga titles and the FA Cup during what has been a hugely successful career.

Chicago Fire have today announced that they are signing Bastian Schweinsteiger from Manchester United.

The 32-year old midfielder will complete his move to the United States after he’s obtained a VISA and passed a medical.

After a torrid two seasons at Old Trafford, the former German international will be hoping to reignite his career over in the MLS; a league that will only benefit from his imminent arrival.

Unlike big names from the past like Steven Gerrard and Didier Drogba, Schweinsteiger is still at an age where he could play for another five seasons if he wanted too, should he stay fit.

This makes him perhaps the biggest marquee signing from Europe for some time. The former Bayern Munich man could easily become the new face of MLS, should he rediscover the form that made him one of the best holding midfielders on the planet.

He will also boost the interest in the league both in the United States and in Germany. Fans will flock into stadiums to see him play. German networks will want to show live matches and provide additional coverage to a larger worldwide audience. His face on the advertising boards will only be a huge plus for the MLS marketing team, as it continues to compete with the Chinese Super League.

Moving to Chicago of all teams will give Schweinsteiger the chance to really showcase his talent for the whole world to see. Where he was fifth or even sixth choice at Manchester United, he is going to be number one on Veljko Paunović’s team sheet.

The Chicago Head Coach has spoken to the media about Fire’s new signing, and claims he cannot wait to start working with him.

“His immense expereince at the highest levels of this sport will be a great benefit to this squad of players,” Paunović said.

“Bastian will help with our team’s organisation and have an impact on our build up play towards the final third thanks to his vision, creativity and ability to score goals.”

Chicago Fire’s General Manager Nelson Rodríguez added: “This is a very big day for our club and I believe for the MLS after acquiring one of our sports great champions.

“Bastian isn’t just here because of his pedigree, but also because we believe he represents our club’s values.”

The signing of Schweinsteiger further showcases just how far the MLS has come in recent years. It finally looks like players aren’t moving across to America for a final ‘pay-day’. They actually believe the MLS is becoming a competitive league that wets their appetite.

Manchester United fans weren’t been too pleased with the treatment the German received at the Premier League club, especially under Jose Mourinho. He failed to make a single appearance in the league this season, meaning he leaves after playing just 18 times in a Red Devils shirt since his arrival back in July 2015.

Germany Head Coach Joachim Löw said in his press conference today that the midfielder was not given a chance to show his full potential at United, and that is was a shame he couldn’t light up the Premier League just like he had the Bundesliga

Across the pond however, fans are beginning to feel rather excited about their new man. Jerseys with the German’s name on the back are already selling, and people are calling it the ‘greatest signing in Chicago Fire’s history.’

Schweinsteiger could make his debut at Toyota Park on Saturday 1st April, where Chicago Fire host Montreal Impact.

 

 

MLS Daily: Sounders back to their best after convincing win against the New York Red Bulls.

Goals from Clint Dempsey (Pen), Jordan Morris and Harry Shipp won the game for the defending MLS champions.

A crowd of 45,000 witnessed the return of the Seattle Sounders side that won last year’s MLS Cup, after they beat New York Red Bulls 3-1 at CenturyLink Field.

Like in Houston and Montreal, the Sounders started the game slowly, but this time the hosts didn’t take until the second half to find their feet.

In the 27th minute, Morris won a penalty for the home side after being brought down by New York ‘keeper Luis Robles.

Former Fulham and Tottenham man Dempsey slotted home the penalty, which seemed to calm the nerves of the Sounders players. Before then they could clearly feel the expectations of the crowd flowing within CenturyLink Field.

Morris was excellent all night. Somewhat a ghostly figure in the opening two matches, last year’s MLS Rookie of the Year was getting into some great positions, but was unable to double the home side’s lead before the break.

The travelling Red Bulls, whose 18-match unbeaten run in the regular season was brought to a drastic halt, had equalised when Bradley Wright-Phillips headed home.

It was the last time the Red Bulls came forward with any real attacking intent. Seattle piled on the pressure after that, and deservedly went back in front when Morris powered home a header of his own inside the six yard box.

Shipp made it 3-1 with just over ten minutes to go when he purposely deflected Joevin Jones’ long range strike into the bottom left corner.

Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer praised the crowd, and hopes the noise of the supporters continues.

“This is going to be an exciting home season for us,” he said in his post-match conference.

“Today’s atmosphere was good. The fans were loud from start to end and we were able to reward them with a good performance.”

Schmetzer again spoke about the never-say die attitude of his team.

“Once again we have produced a good second half performance,” claimed the Sounders boss.

“I can’t tell you how or why, but the spirit of the team is always there.”

Striker Jordan Morris almost came off at half-time due to injury, but the young forward insists he was fine.

“We said try it for ten minutes, and it felt fine. I never wanted to come off. I always want to play,” he said after the game. 

“It’s the same ankle I sprained a little back in the pre-season, but I don’t think it’a anything serious and I should be fine for next week.”

Both these sides will be in contention to make the end of season play-offs if they perform to the levels we have seen already this season, but they will need to make their form consistent.

The Red Bulls have to be more attacking and cleverer with possession away from home, especially at a hostile location like Seattle.

The Sounders also need to continue to be on the front foot from the get go and attack with pace. Morris, Jones and Oniel Fisher casued havoc for the New York defence all evening, and more of the same will see them quickly climb up the Western Conference.

 

 

MLS Daily: LA Galaxy finally get their first points of the season at Real Salt Lake.

The five-time MLS Champions lost their first two matches of the 2017 campaign. 

Perhaps it’s best if LA Galaxy stayed away from the StubHub Centre.

Curt Onalfo’s side lost both their home matches to Dallas and Portland Timbers respectively in weeks 1 and 2 of the 2017 season.

It’s the first time since 2012 that the Galaxy have lost consecutive home matches in the regular season, making this weekend’s game even in Utah even more important.

Things started badly for the visitors as RSL’s Yura Movsisya headed in their first goal of the campaign at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

Kyle Beckermann was shown a second yellow card just before half-time in what was a game-changing moment, as the Galaxy made their one man advantage count.

Dave Romney cannoned in a thunderbolt of a volley into the top corner to equalise, before Emmanuel Boateng fired home a low cross with just over 15 minutes to go.

Real Salt Lake’s Chad Barrett will be kicking himself with what has to go down as miss of the season so far.

The unmarked substitute somehow managed to shoot wide with an open goal in front of him. But the Galaxy held on to claim all three points.

After the 2-1 victory, match-winner Boateng told LA Galaxy the side were relieved to finally win a game.

“This is a great win for us,” he said.

“I felt we were confident enough to beat RSL. The red card helped us a lot as we could then add some pressure on their defence.

“It was important to get this win before the international break.”

Head Coach Onalfo was delighted to get get his first win as boss.

“This win means a lot. I’ve worked my whole life for this job,” Onalfo said after the game.

“I want to win and be successful, and we’re going to be. It’s good to get the first win under my belt and the first of many, many more.

It was a busy Saturday in MLS, with 10 of the 11 matches this weekend now completed.

Portland Timbers came back from 2-1 down to win 4-2 at home to Houston Dynamo and keep their 100% start to the 2017 season in tact.

Columbus Crew won 2-0 in the capital to pile further misery on DC United, whilst Atlanta United continued to make huge strides with another emphatic win over Chicago Fire (4-0).

There were also wins for FC Dallas, Sporting KC, Orlando City and Toronto FC, with New York City FC and Montreal drawing their match 1-1 at Yankee Stadium.

Minnesota United also grabbed their first ever MLS point away at Colorado Rapids in an entertaining 2-2 draw.

 

MLS Daily: Ever-present Keegan Rosenberry is one to watch out for.

The right back was selected as the third overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union, and has not looked back since. 

It’s been quite a 12 months for Keegan Rosenberry.

The 23-year old has played every minute of every game for Union and scored two goals since he was brought into the side last year. He was also part of the 2016 MLS All-Star team that lost 2-1 to Arsenal last summer and named runner up in the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year award.

“Things happen quickly  in this game,”  Union manager Jim Curtin said to Philly.com earlier this year.

“They happen to people who earn it and Keegan earned it from day one.

“He came in with a great mentality. He’s a winner, and he projects a lot of things we want a Philadelphia Union player to be.”

Adept at one-on-one defending and reading the play, Rosenberry is growing into one of MLS’ most versatile defenders. However, his introduction to Major League Soccer wasn’t a nice one.

The young defender made his debut for the club in Philadelphia’s 2-0 defeat to Dallas on opening weekend in 2016. Where some young players crumble in that situation, Rosenberry began to flourish.

Coincidentally, the team’s results improved just as the right back’s performances did, which resulted in Philadelphia reaching the end of season Play-Offs for just the second time in their history.

They may have lost 3-1 to Toronto in the knockout round, but it has given this Philadelphia team a platform to build on for this year and beyond.

“In the first half of last season, we were near the top of the Eastern Conference and we played well at home,” Rosenberry said in an interview with Philly.com.

“That does a lot for the fans and the expectations for the team and the city.

“We felt that we got better every home game and it was really exciting for us. The challenge this year is to continue to build on that and then be more consistent throughout the year.”

Rosenberry’s performances for the Union were rewarded in January, when the 23-year old was called up to the national side for the first time by USA coach Bruce Arena.

“I think this past year has been one of the most exciting years of my life,” said the 23-year old.

“I think it’s probably the best year that I’ve had to date.

“I’m just extremely thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I’m thankful for the Philadelphia Union for giving me the opportunity to progress as a player.

“There have been other rookies who’ve come into the league with just as much talent or just as much work ethic as I have, but they don’t get a chance to play the same amount of game time that I do.”

The Union have began 2017 with two draws, and travel to Orlando City tomorrow hoping to finally get that elusive first win under their belts.

Hopefully it will also give Rosenberry another chance to impress on the national stage as he continues to grow into one of the MLS’ most valuable young players.

MLS Daily: Getting rid of financial regulations wouldn’t necessarily make the MLS more competitive.

New York City FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo has called for the MLS salary cap to be scrapped in order for the league to compete with China’s top division. 

After the financial collapse of the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1980s, the MLS developed a system so that the same fate couldn’t be repeated- but it could cost them the ability to attract the world’s best players.

The rise of the Chinese Super League has escalated over the last couple of years- with teams spending enormous amounts of money to buy some of the highest quality footballers on the planet. Hulk, Oscar, Axel Witsel and Carlos Tevez are just a few of the players currently plying their trade in Asia on mega-buck contracts.

In comparison, the MLS have integrated a system in which clubs can only sign a maximum of three designated players, who can earn above the salary cap thats set across the league.

37-year old Pirlo told Gazzetta dello Sport: “The league needs to get rid of any restrictions on transfers and end the rule which allows only three so-called designated players to earn big money beyond each team’s set budget if it wants to compete.

“I’ve seen improvements and from what I have seen in friendly games and the first two rounds of the regular season. The quality has risen a lot.

“But certainly I would get rid of the restrictions on the transfer market. Enough with the three exceptions to the salary cap, which is too little to convince other stars to come here. They need to develop a liberal system where you can buy and sell players without restrictions.

“Now there is even the competition from China. If you want to compete with other leagues, at home and abroad, you have got to get rid of any restrictions.”

Pirlo, along with David Villa, are two of the three designated players currently on the books at Yankee Stadium.

Other notable names on designated contracts include Orlando city captain Kaka, Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco, as well as LA Galaxy trio Jelle Van Damme, Giovani Dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini.

David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba have all been previously on designated player contracts.

The major problem for the MLS is that players have only considered moving to the states as a last big payday. Most players listed above joined their retrospective clubs when they were in their 30s.

The restrictions on contracts and transfer sums means that players aren’t ready to join a league that isn’t as competitive as the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga when they are at their peak.

A shift in the rulebook could help the teams compete with the Chinese Super League, but it would definitely hamper certain clubs chances of success.

Even if the restrictions were lifted, not all MLS clubs have mega budgets they could use to sign quality players. Like some leagues in Europe, we would probably see three or four clubs competing for the MLS Cup every year, which could drive away certain fans.

At the same time, fans do want to see the world’s best players. Rumours are going round suggesting that LA Galaxy are preparing to offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a deal to come over to the MLS- a deal which would excite the country let alone LA.

But you couldn’t imagine other clubs, say the San Jose Earthquakes or Sporting KC offering the same deal to the 35-year old Swedish captain. Only a handful of teams could, and that is why the salary cap is worthy of being in place. It makes the league fairer for the smaller budgeted sides.

The quality of the American top flight is forever growing stronger, and when it is at a standard where most if not all players would be worthy of designated player contracts, then we could see a change in the rules.

China may have the money, but it will take time to integrate better footballing standards in the country. Look at the English clubs spending big, like Manchester United. They are still nowhere near winning the Premier League title. Liverpool also have spent a heap of cash and look like possibly missing out on Champions League football.

Leicester City won the Premier League last year, and had one of the smallest budgets in the division.

Money isn’t everything. It may bring the stars, but it doesn’t necessarily bring better standards and excitement. The MLS this year is as competitive as ever, and it’s only going to get better.