With steadily increasing attendances and viewing figures, Major League Soccer continues to grow in stature across America. A country that is more famous for basketball, American football and ice hockey now has another sport to proudly promote across the world, with teams now able to attract the biggest names from Europe. Thierry Henry and David Beckham illustrate the calibre of players that have come over from Europe in recent years to enjoy the riches of beautifully warm climates and multi-million dollar salaries. The presence of superstar players has enhanced the profile of the MLS which has become an attractive proposition for overseas stars to consider a move to America at some point in their career.
While it may have ended his chances of being included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the 2014 World Cup, Jermaine Defoe has justified his decision to move to Toronto FC by becoming an instant hit with the fans through an early flurry of goals (yet they are still 3-1 underdogs against the Red Bulls on Friday). The striker was joined by Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey who returned home to the MLS following stints in Europe – further illustrating the draw of playing in America. This was influential in the most recent ground-breaking signing which saw last season’s La Liga winner and Champions League runner-up David Villa agree to join New York City who, alongside Orlando City SC, will increase the number of franchises in the MLS from 19 to 21. Villa’s impending arrival may spark a wave of top European players following in his footsteps, with a number of betting markets already opened for star names to join the Spanish international in the MLS. Speaking of betting you could do a lot worse than back Villa as top MLS scorer in his debut season depending what other quality New York bring in. With no disrespect to the MLS a player who was a regular scorer in La Liga last season and also bagged a goal on what could well be his final game for the Spanish national team should bag quite a few goals.
The all-time top goalscorer at Chelsea has ended a wonderful x-year relationship with Chelsea, with the veteran midfielder set to move onto pastures new. Frank Lampard is currently out of contract and may look for a final swansong to top off a fantastic career spanning 429 games at Stamford Bridge. He is set to feature for England at this summer’s World Cup in what is likely to be Lampard’s final international swansong before retiring, but there is every possibility that he could continue his domestic career in the MLS. Lampard has been subject of interest over the last two seasons from the LA Galaxy who see the midfielder as the ideal player to follow in David Beckham’s footsteps and become their star attraction. New York City has also been strongly linked with a move for the midfielder who, despite being in the twilight years of his career, would be a wonderful signing for the new franchise to make a statement of intent.
Breaking Gerd Muller’s long-standing goal-scoring record for Germany is an achievement in itself, but Miroslav Klose could follow this feat by becoming the all-time top scorer in World Cup history. The 36-year-old has been selected by Joachim Low to lead the line once again, in the knowledge that he still has the predatory instincts and lethal finishing ability to make the difference despite his advancing years. Lazio would loathe losing their star striker, but no-one would blame Klose if he sought a lucrative move as a fitting end to a superb career at domestic and international level. MLS clubs have been watching Klose’s contract situation with some interest, with the veteran striker admitting that a move to America would appeal to him.
Irrespective of the disappointing season Manchester United endured throughout the 2013/2014 Premier League season, Rio Ferdinand’s days at Old Trafford were always likely to be numbered. The 35-year-old centre back has been plagued by injuries over the past two or three seasons, yet has remained commanding in defence when called upon. Although he may have lost a yard or two of pace, Ferdinand remains a formidably strong defender who could continue to play at the highest level. Moving with his family to the south of England has alerted a number of Premier League clubs in the London area, but Ferdinand could be tempted by the warm climates and luxury salary on offer in the MLS.