Opinion: The MLS is not the retirement league

Major League Soccer has been getting a lot of flak over the past few years.

It’s being criticized as the “retirement league.”

The MLS is still very young in comparison to star-studded international leagues like England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga or Italy’s Serie A.

During the past decade, the MLS has produced home grown stars like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard and others. However, these stars don’t compare to the likes of superstars such as Messi or Ronaldo.

The MLS and its franchises have been looking to develop and improve the overall quality in talent and competition to boast support for soccer in the United States.

Recently, teams have brought in international stars such as Steven Gerrard, Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa, Ricardo Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Didier Drogba, Robbie Keane and many others.

Lately, they have been producing for each of their respective teams, just like David Beckham did during the previous decade when he came in from overseas to play for the LA Galaxy.

Many of these players who have come over are past their prime, but that should by no means diminish their experience in facing top tier talent.

For example, Kaka was the FIFA World Player of the Year back in 2007, and he is currently 34 and is a key leader for the young Orlando franchise.

Sure, he might not be in his prime and on top of the world like he was in 2007, but he is still a competitor.

All of the players on this list have achieved great success in other international leagues against much stiffer completion.

Now that they are over here and continuing on with their elite play, the MLS teams are going to have to step up and develop talent if they want to compete.

In a sense, the MLS is bringing over the “Tom Brady’s” and “Peyton Manning’s” from other foreign teams, although these players aren’t quite as old as Brady and Manning.

The players mentioned range in ages from 29-38,  most being around 34.

They aren’t too old, considering that soccer is a low contact sport.

One of the benefits from bringing these guys over, besides their talent and leadership, is their name recognition.

Most Americans don’t follow soccer to begin with, and if they do, then they most likely pay attention to the major teams like Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United, etc., or they may just pay attention to the national team every four years.

More people probably know the international names like Keane, David Villa, Drogba, and Gerrard than their American counterparts Wondelowski, Wright-Phillips or Bradley.

Not only will this tactic draw more American fans into the sport, it will also draw foreign fans, which will bring more attention to MLS around the world.

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