Now that the World Cup is over, many are now waiting to see if the surge in popularity of soccer in the United States will continue and if Major League Soccer can benefit.
Unfortunately, any new interest will likely be hurt by the best young American players leaving MLS to play overseas.
One of the newest American stars is 21-year-old defender DeAndre Yedlin, who currently plays for his hometown team, the Seattle Sounders of MLS. Several teams in Europe have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Yedlin, including one of the biggest clubs in Italy, AS Roma, with one report claiming a deal is already in place.
Another American defender, 27-year-old Matt Besler, confirmed in a radio interview that his current club, Sporting Kansas City, has received offers from at least two clubs in England.
Meanwhile, Eric Gomez of Fox Deportes is reporting that Club America in Mexico will attempt to acquire Omar Gonzalez, a former MLS defender of the year, from the L.A. Galaxy.
These three players are key because they are three of the four youngest players on the U.S. national team who play in MLS and represent the future of American soccer. The only other MLS players on the national team under the age of 31 were Graham Zusi (27) and Michael Bradley (26).
This is not necessarily a bad thing for the popularity of soccer in this country. We are already seeing a surge in interest in England’s Premier League in the United States and moves like these will only enhance that.
But if Major League Soccer wants to benefit from the popularity of the World Cup and the U.S. national team, they need to have the American stars and the recognisable names playing on this side of the Atlantic. But at the same time, if the players are going to develop and grow, they need to be playing in the top leagues against the best players.
So it is best for the future of American soccer to allow these players to develop overseas. However, MLS suffers in the meantime with matches that will lose the drawing power of known commodities and any hope of MLS benefiting from the popularity of the World Cup, beyond the already strong local fan bases, won’t materialise.
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