MLS’ professional culture and commitment to improvement shows England the way forward
The culture of European football is starting to change in the way they think about developing young players. Spain and Germany can call upon so many top class players to represent their country because they have taken the time to shape the future. MLS is creating a similar foundation for the USA national team with players like Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson, Jack McInerney and Dax McCarty currently playing in the MLS and the USA national team.
The future looks bright. But maybe certain European nations should be looking at the MLS system as a chance to give the best youngsters at the club an opportunity to see if they can handle the pressure of being the star player.
MLS has been unfairly treated by some and the standard has been questioned. The MLS is a fast paced and highly athletic league. Many players have come to the MLS and failed because they didn’t respect the league; the MLS will leave you in the dark if you are not committed. With this in mind, the Premier League and possibly La Liga (with Chivas USA) could use the MLS to give the players which they rate highly a chance to show they can handle the pressure of a fantastic league and the hype of being a big name in a country with a big media presence.
If, for example, Chelsea wanted to give a young English player which the club rates highly but he can’t get into the first team, he will get the chance to be the overseas franchise player, which comes with a magnifying glass constantly watching over him. The hype around the player would show Chelsea what sort of mentality he has. If he doesn’t respect the league, it will show he is not committed and if he performs on a regular basis and proves his worth, then Chelsea can see the impact he might have back at the club or on loan in a major European league.
The Championship and League 1 teams are closer in standard but the culture in the USA is different, and that will be a big shock to some of the young players. The no-drinking culture is taken seriously, and the over 21 age restriction will be a show of the player’s commitment, as going out to night clubs and meeting girls and drinking will be illegal. Unlike at home, where they might get distracted by such temptations, they wouldn’t be exposed to it in America.
Players who go to MLS will find the style of play to be completely different to the European game; it’s faster and more athletic, so you get hardly any time on the ball. Teams in the MLS are getting better by the year and the selection process for bringing in expansion teams means clubs have a rigid wage structure.
This will be a good selling point for clubs looking to loan players to USA as it wouldn’t make sense for the loan player to be the franchise player and get the big money; instead they will have a modest wage. He will have to knuckle down and get on with improving, the very reason he had been sent there in the first place.
MLS is an underrated league and with Man City looking to expand to MLS by setting up in New York City, it means there’s something in the MLS which can improve the club. All Premier League teams should be looking for an expansion into MLS or setting up a deal with a current team.
The young American players are getting better and this shows in World Cups when USA qualifies, as they look stronger each tournament. English teams would benefit because of the language barrier not existing and the chance to send talented players to prove their worth in a highly professional environment. They can’t take their talent for granted, so it’s an ideal proving ground for talented young players.