Football

What makes a move to MLS so attractive for players like Gerrard and Lampard?

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Major League Soccer, abbreviated to the MLS, is on the rise in the US at the moment.

Ever since Manchester United legend David Beckham moved to LA Galaxy in 2007, football, known as soccer in the US, has began to flourish.

Growing sport

For years, football in America has been behind the likes of the NBA, NFL and MLB when it comes to the amount of support received by fans.

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This is currently changing, with world-class players such as Steven Gerrard, David Villa, Kaka, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo moving to America to ply their trade in the MLS. The league is growing extremely quickly and is becoming incredibly popular amongst fans in the US.

When the first MLS season took place in 1996, the league was made up of just ten teams. However, since then, the league has expanded by one or two teams almost every season, with there now being 20 teams taking part. The plan from MLS is to have 24 teams in the league by 2020, a move which will further strengthen the MLS brand.

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The idea of moving to MLS is now a very appealing one for many footballers across Europe and the world. Not only does America bring a fantastic lifestyle and major money contracts, but the league itself is becoming an increasingly competitive one.

New York City FC and Orlando City SC are both the latest franchises to join MLS. New York City FC are co-owned by Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees baseball team and are currently the richest team in the league, as shown by the prestigious signings of Frank Lampard, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo.

Not just for money

Of course, both Pirlo and Lampard will be given a rather attractive looking contract by the club; however, according to New York City's sporting director Claudio Reyna, the two players have not just joined the MLS outfit for the money.

Reyna, quoted by BBC Sport, said:

"I asked them the question, why come to MLS now? They looked me in the eye and said they wanted to compete...We are starting a club from scratch," said Reyna.

"It is not just about bringing great players in. We are trying to establish a culture and a foundation for the way we want to train and act around the changing room.

"At this stage, that is as important as the result we get on a weekend. These guys are experienced. They are mentally very strong. That is why they have been as good as they are for so long. That will supersede their age."

There have been many critics of MLS who have claimed that the league is where players can finish their career whilst earning a phenomenal pay check.

In my opinion the league should not be criticised for this. Younger players, as shown by Giovani dos Santos signing for LA Galaxy and Sebastian Giovonco moving to Toronto FC, are also attracted by the prospect of  MLS and will play a part in making the league stronger and stronger.

Also, despite players such as Lampard, Gerrard and Pirlo all being in their mid to late thirties, they are still fantastic players who could no doubt still perform for a team in any of the top leagues around Europe.

Bigger and better

MLS is only going to get stronger in the coming years. With billionaires around the world seeing the potential the league has, big money takeovers will be inevitable, making each team in the league stronger.

Also, with MLS looking to expand, a greater amount of support will be attracted to watching the football in America, surely only a positive for the game that the rest of the world has taken to their hearts.

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Topics:
Frank Lampard
Kaka
Steven Gerrard
MLS
Football

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