The MLS is beginning to build its own identity as a rising league. The acquisitions of big stars have played a massive part in the dramatic rise of the MLS both on and off the pitch. Here is our 10 most ‘significant’ MLS signings…
A goalscorer throughout his career, Jermain’s move to Toronto was certainly welcomed by the league and also by Drake, the bizarre broker of this deal. While it hasn’t quite been a smooth ride since Defoe moved across the Atlantic, with rumours he’s desperate to head back to England, the striker is certainly a name that simply bolsters the league’s reputation as a whole.
Timmy Cahill has been a hero wherever he has played. Even though he was 32 when he finally left Merseyside, Cahill was still an integral part of the side that previous season with 41 appearances. This was clearly a player who could still cut it. As Thierry’s wingman, at New York Red Bulls, Cahill has continued to show off his talents.
Robbie Keane, the all-time Irish scorer has become a major part of the MLS since moving in 2010. After spells at many illustrious clubs including Internazionale, Spurs, Celtic and his much adored Liverpool… Keane ventured West to join Becks at LA Galaxy. A player who has reportedly accrued a total transfer fee of £90m+ over his career, with 210 goals to his name before heading to L.A. Galaxy… that was a decent coup.
The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year and Balon d’Or winner joining one of the MLS’ newest teams is incredible. Once bought for €65M Kaka is renowned as one of the most elegant class acts to have played the game. Although his best years are surely behind him the Brazilian playmaker still has a lot to offer Orlando and the MLS as a whole.
Lamps may be 36, but he certainly doesn’t play like it. Lampard, to this day, continues to prove why he has been at the forefront of English football for so many years. The Chelsea fans favourite has moved to NYCFC with every intention of picking up where he’ll finish when his Man City loan comes to an end. Note to MLS fans – get ready for a midfield goalscoring feast.
From the Champions League final to the MLS. If people would have said a few years ago that someone like David Villa from the La Liga Champions and Champions League finalists would leave that summer for MLS?! This is not a retirement move. David Villa is certainly not a washed up player. The striker made an incredible 47 appearances last season netting 15 times. This could be huge.
States stars are now returning! Michael Bradley heading home shows quite clearly that the MLS is no longer just a ‘stepping stone’ to Europe. It is becoming a proper league in its own right. A league that calls back its own stars from ‘greener pastures’. After spells at Heerenveen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Aston Villa, Chievo and Roma, Bradley became a familiar name to fans across Europe and can now offer what he has learnt to the ever growing MLS.
When you think of football in the states you think of two names, Landon Donovan and of course Clint Dempsey. What a coup this was for the MLS. Bringing home Clint was massive, a player who like Bradley had succeeded in the football promise land of Europe, but has returned to his homeland to ply his trade. This is not someone past his peak looking for a payday, Dempsey still has loads to offer and has chosen to do so in the States. Clint heading home just proves how far the MLS has come in recent years.
The French superstar. Before joining Red Bulls in 2010, Thierry had proven that he was one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. During his time at both Arsenal and Barcelona, Henry scored over 250 goals and created 100 more. Thierry like David Beckham, has a certain character which makes him appealing both on and off the pitch. Thierry Henry followed Becks out to the states and there is no doubt that he and Beckham paved the way for the leagues newest stars by growing the stature of the MLS.
The earliest and the biggest. It’s hard to compete with ‘Becks’. There is more you get with Beckham than just a very good footballer. You get a world renowned icon in popular culture. A player who has played in the majority of the top leagues for the biggest teams in the world. When you sign a cog of Real Madrid’s galacticos… it’s a big deal. Beckham came at a time when the MLS was still looking at how to crack the football scene. Without Becks’ move it would be interesting to see where the MLS would be today.