For Rick Andreoli Montreal Impact fan, the MLA has always been great, but he has conceded to me a number of times on our podcast that it is in fact in much finer shape now than ever before. The truth is that for the rest of the world, the MLS was something of a pantomime division, a league system with no relegation or promotion, poor quality players and superstars who only went there for a final payday, like some sort of show pony who could elongate their career and get some column inches and new celebrity fans.
What we have seen in recent years however has shown that the MLS is no longer this sort of league, and they have managed to grow into one of the most entertaining around, and here is how they have done it.
Whilst the likes of LA Galaxy may still look to pick up legends of the game who are on their way out, in the main this is no longer the focus of teams here. Of course if there is a talented player available who wishes to go there, perhaps with an eye on kickstarting a career away from football once they retire, they may still go. In the main however this is not something which happens to often and that is very good for the league in general.
Some of the talent which is coming through now is simply brilliant and whilst the league is still losing the likes of Alphonso Davies at a young age, more and more scouts are beginning to look at the MLS for talent. This of course stands to reason given the enormous investment which grassroots soccer has seen in the US and that is starting to bear fruit now at the top league in the country.
At the moment this is still one of the most competitive leagues around, and that was not always something that could be said about the MLS. For so many years it was a straight shootout between 2 or 3 teams, each and every year. Now however we are seeing some of the so called underdogs really performing well and letting the league know that they can do things just as well as the division’s big boys.
Unlike so many countries around the world, the women’s game has actually been stronger in the US than the men’s game, for quite a long time now. The women’s team has in fact influenced the rest of the world to grow the women’s game and I would say that they have also had a positive impact on the MLS. The US national team has brought attention to both women’s football and football in the USA and that has resulted in the MLS gaining ground and prestige.
This league looks set to be well funded for many years to come and that is going to result in a very strong league in the future.