How is the MLS going to deal with the arrival of the European trio?

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Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard have all recently been unveiled at their respective new clubs in the USA.

They have all dominated Europe for the last decade but how will they do stateside?

New York Midfield Duo

The Arab owners of recently founded New York City FC (NYCFC) have immediately shown that they aren’t afraid to splash the cash. This summer, they completed the long awaited transfer of Chelsea and England legend Frank Lampard along with Italian maestro and Juventus hero, Andrea Pirlo.


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The midfield duo will join recent addition David Villa and add a wealth of experience to the team with 1,797 appearances between them for club and country.

The struggling Eastern Conference side is currently sat in second last place just three points above Chicago Fire. Andrea Pirlo will have to get used to ‘The Big Apple’ with it having eight times the population of his previous home, Turin.

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The hustle and bustle of ‘the city that never sleeps’ is a long way from the peace and tranquility of his vineyard in Brescia. The New York fans will marvel at being able to watch a genius at work in their own backyard.

One problem which arises with a player of such high quality joining a club with players of a lower quality is the talent difference.

‘L’Architetto’ is used to playing precise long balls to the likes of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente who would easily get on the end of them and bury them in the back of the net; job done.

The NYCFC players, however, will have to get used to his style of play and it won’t be easy. Lampard and Pirlo understand the way that the other plays football.

It will take time to adjust the team to their orchestration, distribution and style of play with USA international Mix Diskerud having to move to more of an attacking role to make room for the European duo.

A redistribution of players mid-season is never good for any team and will no doubt disrupt any kind of rhythm that the struggling East coast outfit might have had to begin with.

The language barrier is also going to be a problem for Pirlo. Despite there being over 93,000 Italians in New York City, none of them are on his team.

He speaks virtually no English and in a position as important as his, being able to communicate clear instructions on the pitch is essential. It may be a while before the Italian star will be fully effective on field, a lot of pointing may have to be done.

Steven Gerrard

Another player who may also struggle with the language barrier is former Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard. His talent is not in doubt though.

From his LA Galaxy debut against Mexican side Club America we saw that he will do well on the West coast. He had many chances in the first half but was denied by opposition keeper Hugo Gonzalez.

According to the Mirror, after the match, Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena said: “He looked like he belonged, his passing was very good, and his partnership with Juninho was very good too...It was very encouraging, his leadership was good.”

It will of course take time for him to settle in at the club, and for supporters to get used to his accent, but he looks set to shine in the City of Angels.

Many people are under the illusion that the MLS is simply a retirement home for footballing greats. This has been the general consensus for a number of years but is slowly changing.

David Beckham’s transfer to LA Galaxy from Spanish giants Real Madrid was a bold one but has helped to boost the appeal of football in the United States where other sports steal the headlines.

Since David Beckham’s arrival in LA in 2007, more and more players have graced the American league. French legend Thierry Henry enjoyed a four year spell at Eastern Conference side New York Red Bulls scoring 52 goals in 135 appearances for the club.

Others include the transfer of Irish forward Robbie Keane to LA Galaxy in 2011 and Brazilian attacking midfielder Kaka to Orlando City in 2014.

With the popularity of the sport on the rise the game is getting more and more competitive and the 2014 MLS Cup final sold out the 27,000 capacity StubHub Center in Los Angeles.

Having dominated the European leagues for over a decade Pirlo, Lampard and Gerrard are legends of the game and are sure to be popular in the US. The success of their clubs, however, may have to wait.

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Frank Lampard
Steven Gerrard
LA Galaxy

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