I've been hearin a lot about how the MLS sucks and how it always will suck and how the talent level is crap and how only older, washed up players will play in this league. I've been hearing A LOT of this, and I want to try and clear this up a little bit.
There are a few things wrong with the way some people view Major League Soccer. I want to try and clear up these confusions and problems here.
1) Accusation: The MLS is a weak league and always will be!
My Take on This:
While the talent level of the MLS may be uncomparable at this moment to that of Europe and in some cases Asia and South America, it won't be like this forever.
Keep in mind, people, that the MLS has only been in existance since 1994 (a product of the 1994 FIFA World Cup) and it's inaugural season wasn't until 1996, twelve years ago.
The talent level, the league's financial security and fan support have increased greatly since this time, and to this day great improvements are being made.
People compare this league to the success of the English Premier League, but when were most of the teams in the Premier League founded? How long have these teams been in existance? Manchester United began playing football competitively in 1878. AC Milan began in 1899. It's taken decades and decades for these teams to gain the respect, fan support and level of play to get to where they are today.
The increasing media coverage, due to new players being introduced and more TV coverage, has also boosted the MLS's popularity in the US.
Did you assume that the MLS would immediately be just as good as Europe? No! That's ridiculous. Be quiet.
Just like any professional league, it's going to take a long time to grow, and unlike the North American Soccer League (NASL) which had great success in the 70's and 80's, the MLS is much more financially safe.
And until this level of talent and respect for this league grows significantly, which won't be for another 20-30 years at least, the league will be second rate to Europe.
When you compare it to other sports leagues though, like the NFL, it's early years have proven to be much more successful. In the first decade of the NFL's existance, dozens and dozens of teams were founded and went bankrupt, usually only after a few games. The MLS, like I said before, has already had great successes.
Fans need to be patient. Leagues mature just like people, in the sense that it takes years and years for them to reach full maturity and gain respect.
2. Accusation: The MLS isn't helping itself by singing older, more injury-prone players
My Take on This:
How could this not help? Sure, we'd rather see quicker, more agile, tougher and most importantly younger players in this league, but at the moment all seem to be heading eastward (to Europe) where they can make a name for themselves. Older players tend to be tempted to the MLS for several reasons:
1) They're not really wanted with the teams they currently play with, as their level of play has decreased, they're not in as good shape as they used to be, and these teams want to make way for younger, fresher talent. Basically, they're aging and they feel they're not wanted by their club anymore.
2) Many of the older players come from teams from Mexico or South America, and with the large Mexican fan population in the MLS, especially with FC Dallas, the Dynamo and Chivas USA, they will be largely appreciated by the fans in the MLS, who have watched them play in their leagues. Players are attracted to playing in the MLS for this reason, usually.
3) Because of the fact they have a big name, MLS GM's, in an attempt to draw more attention and sell more tickets, will sign the big name that people have heard of. (using their Designated Player slot)
In most cases the older players, who have proved themselves on the field for years, are usually more popular and more well known than younger ones. Their level of play isn't as good as it once was, but they still have talent. Talent which can help MLS squads to not only succeed but bring in profit. Remember these are businesses, too.
My point is, many of these guys still play great soccer. Like I said before, the MLS's level of play is much different than other leagues across the world in the sense that it is a much more physical, slower paced league compared to most others. Plus the fact that the majority of players aren't as athletic as players in other leagues, primarily Europe.
If these guys still have the desire to win and can still compete, how could this NOT be beneficial to the MLS? It's bringing up the level of play and bringing more attention to the game at the same time.
I hope that clears things up a bit. I have a problem with people who dis a league (not just in soccer. In any sport) when they haven't really taken the time to understand it or even watch it.
Any other questions or problems? I'd be happy to answer them.