From a league that attracted players at the end of their careers, to a league that forms the future champions of world football. The change in MLS has been radical over the years. The boom came after the world championship played in 1994. The first official season of the MLS began two years later, but that world championship marked the beginning of many European players moving to America to play their last remnants of careers.

Think of the Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos, the Colombian Valderramma up to Roberto Donadoni who came from AC Milan. Over time, many players have moved to America: it was the turn of Hristo Stoichkov, Walter Zenga, Lothar Matthäus and Youri Djorkaeff. An initial boom which then came to a halt due to the salary cap imposed by the league.

The situation changes again in 2007, when the MLS decides to impose a derogation on the salary cap. This change makes it easier for David Beckham to move to the Los Angeles Galaxy, where Steven Gerrard, Robbie Kean and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also end up. In New York came Thierry Henry on one side, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo at City. Later, the likes of Didier Drogba in Montreal, Bastian Schweinsteiger in Chicago, Wayne Rooney in D.C. United and Kakà at Orlando City. For most of these players, MLS was their last career stage, for others it wasn't.

The two main players who went on to other clubs were David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After their experience with the Galaxy, they both returned to Europe at AC Milan where they went on to win. The two of them are the prime example of how MLS has changed in recent years.

In fact, MLS is becoming a high-level league. Even in recent seasons, players have arrived at the end of their careers such as Giorgio Chiellini and Bale at LAFC, Gonzalo Higuain at Inter Miami, just to name the main ones. However, the trend is changing. Many MLS teams have decided to no longer focus on European and world stars but to look for young talents to train and grow. New York City FC has perfectly succeeded in this with Taty Castellanos. The Argentine, after a couple of seasons in which he made a difference in New York and throughout the MLS, was sold in Spain to Girona. Atlanta sold Almiron, Villalba and Barco, Busio and Reynolds moved to Serie A and Ricardo Pepi from Dallas to Augsburg.

We don't want to mention all the players sold by MLS clubs to the best teams in the world. Rather, the trend in America has changed. MLS is no longer seen as a league where players who have reached the end of their careers overwinter, who have their last rounds to shoot. It is a growing championship, where we no longer look much at names but at the quality of the players.

For this reason, we will hardly see any European stars at the end of their careers playing with New York City FC. The club's policy is to make the club grow, to win with players of absolute quality. The club wants to create deep attachment to the shirt from the players present and who will arrive over the years. No more players who can create a certain appeal, only quality players.

Sezione: Top Stories / Data: Sun 13 November 2022 alle 15:00
Autore: Stefano Bentivogli
see readings