Photo via Newcastle United
For years, Major League Soccer has been called a retirement league. But not without a good reason. Many international players past and present have decided to end their careers here in the United States simply because of the money they would make here. Or maybe because they would look great in a league that was still trying to build any sort of competition. The MLS has been called home to international stars like David Beckham, Didier Drogba, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Wayne Rooney, David Villa, etc. These signings are made by teams not only to sell jerseys, but to continue to gain more attention on the league. In fact, if it were not for the Beckham signing, there was a chance that Major League Soccer would have not gained enough revenue to survive another few years.
However, these are the times of the past and Major League Soccer is thriving. With 26 teams in the league and three more teams on their way (Sacramento, St. Louis, and Austin), the chance for major stars to continue joining the league is high. The best part about this, it allows for more no-name players to end up getting some notice on an international level. In fact, that is what the league is now turning into. What started as a place where people would come settle is now rapidly becoming a place to take off. There are plenty of young and coming players who have called MLS home and sprouted their wings to travel overseas.
Now, for those who have read my articles, I have mentioned previous players like Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore. These players started in the states, went overseas and only to come back to retire or eventually retire. This is not so much the case anymore. Miguel Almiron and DeAndre Yedlin currently play in the Premier League for Newcastle United. Reggie Cannon went over to the Portuguese Primeira Liga club, Boavista. Tyler Adams, a former New York Red Bull, has become a star for RB Leipzig. Most recently, Brenden Aaronson of the Philadelphia Union has signed for RB Salzburg to play for former NYRB head coach, Jesse Marsch. All these players grew through Major League Soccer and have put international teams on notice. But with the youth leaving, how are past stars of the league now developing the MLS?
Well for a few examples, Didier Drogba and David Beckham are both currently owners of their own individual clubs. Drogba is a part owner of Phoenix Rising FC in the United Soccer League. Beckham is the majority owner of debutant, Inter Miami CF in the MLS. Thierry Henry is the current manager of the Montreal Impact and there are apparent ties between NYCFC and Manchester City, having the same ownership group.
To say that the future of this league is bright is easy to notice. The days of retiring to the beach and selling some jerseys are gone. The MLS is now here to be a proper farmer’s league and will continue to produce. It is time for this league to really be put on notice.