The Major League Soccer (MLS) is booming! Even though it is not as prestigious as England’s Premier League, it is starting to catch the eye of many.
Ever since David Beckham came to the league, scoring 18 goals and recording 32 assists in 98 appearances for LA Galaxy, a huge influx of foreign players entered, including David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Thierry Henry, and Kaka.
Even Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini moved to Los Angeles FC in June 2022, and here are some reasons why they have done so.
Why Do Football Players Go To MLS?
It may be shocking to find some big-name players moving to the MLS, and these are due to 7 main factors:
Many top football stars opt to end their careers playing in the MLS. You may have heard the MLS being known as the “retirement league“.
This is because most of the foreign star players in the MLS are rather old!
Some aged players in top leagues, especially the European ones, want to keep playing. Yet, most of them find it difficult to keep up in these leagues with higher intensity. As such, you will find that these players no longer make the starting lineup or get few minutes to play every match.
Consequently, most of these players decide to join clubs in MLS. There, they can start a new challenge and possibly end their career.
Don’t be surprised if you see the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar Jr playing in MLS in the future!
#2 Contract Status
A large number of these big transfers are a result of contract renewal issues.
A player may choose not to renew their contract with their parent club. For instance, Xherdan Shaqiri completed a record transfer to Chicago Fire FC in February 2022.
The 30-year-old Switzerland international signed with Lyon last August but later opted for a move to MLS.
Bale and Chiellini moved to LAFC after their contracts expired with Real Madrid and Juventus respectively.
#3 The Aspect of Money
Besides contract issues and age, the hefty paycheck for footballers is another reason why most players go to MLS. To a large extent, MLS has one of the highest player salary structures.
Foreign players in the MLS will most likely earn higher salaries than homegrown players. Aside from this, what you may find shocking is that top European players earn a lot.
Players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned a whopping $7 million in two seasons at LA Galaxy. David Beckham also earned $6.5 million.
Their current top players like Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, and Gonzalo Higuain earn $6.3 million, $6 million, and $5.7 million, respectively.
You will find that this trend continues till today.
Besides, some clubs in top European football leagues like the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, and Serie A don’t even pay this much!
This could be one of the main reasons that attracts players to the MLS.
#4 Level of Competition
Major League Soccer has been a paradox throughout the world for years. The rampant lack of understanding about the league has led many to question its ability to create a competitive atmosphere.
The MLS is less competitive as the league does not operate a promotion and relegation system unlike other top leagues in which their clubs have to compete at a higher intensity to avoid relegation.
As such, each team in the MLS plays 34 league matches (17 home and away) and will be safe from relegation.
The intensity in MLS may not be as elite as the top leagues in Europe. This makes it easier for players to transition to playing football here, especially when they are older!
#5 Player’s Reputation
You must have heard about the likes of Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, and Wayne Rooney moving to the MLS. Other top-rated players moved to various clubs in the MLS from their European-based clubs.
There are different views about why these players moved to MLS. Some people say it’s for money, while others say these players have a real love for the game and want to continue doing what they love.
Regardless, these player’s breathtaking feats helped attract fans to support the teams in the MLS.
For instance, Thierry Henry made quite an impression in MLS. He set a personal MLS high as he scored 15 goals and assisted 12 times in a single season. He went on to net 51 goals and 42 assists during his 122 appearances with New York Red Bulls.
Another notable player who has already packed his bags for the United States is Lorenzo Insigne. The Napoli Serie A former star will cross the Atlantic on July 1 to join Toronto FC.
The 31-year Italian champion is one many fans will watch out for as he looks to continue competing with the top teams in the league.
#6 The Captivating Environment and Lifestyle
The United States has been a center of attraction renowned for its appealing environment and majestic buildings that are a sight to see. This often attracts players that wish to experience staying in its lovely cities to the MLS.
For instance, Steven Gerrard admitted he moved to LA Galaxy because he was keen on experiencing the lifestyle in California. He added that Los Angeles as a city had been a draw for himself and his family.
Another notable player is Johnny Russell who currently plays for Sporting Kansas City. He spoke out about how he always had interest in going to the US to take in the lovely scenery.
The delightful environment and lifestyle may be rather attractive to certain players, which allows them to move to the MLS!
#7 The MLS is expanding fast
The big-name transfers have resulted in a snowball effect, where it has garnered more attention, and Sky Sports even has the broadcast rights to some matches!
Additionally, this 2022 MLS, the 27th season, saw the addition of its 28th club Charlotte FC. This expansion creates more avenues for players to come to the league.
Football in the MLS is no longer what it used to be.
As more big-name players move to this league, the calibre and quality of the league will definitely improve!
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