By Jonah Song
Throughout the relatively brief life of Major League Soccer, it has gained the notorious reputation as one of the weakest professional soccer leagues in the world.
Although the United States’ reputation in the world of soccer has sustained a hit from the United States Men’s National Team not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, the MLS is, nevertheless, on the rise. The MLS has been thought of as the location of low quality soccer, but, recently, the league has seen the arrival of several high profile players who have what it takes to mend this underrated league’s reputation.
In March of 2017, the Chicago Fire signed Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger is a German central midfielder who has won the UEFA Champions League, World Cup, Club World Cup, and Bündesliga. He is undoubtedly one of the greats of the German game.
Just two months ago, the LA Galaxy picked up “Ibra,” the all time highest scorer for the Swedish team. Zlatan is easily the greatest Swedish player of all time who has conquered the domestic leagues of some of the world’s best soccer countries while playing for some of the world’s best clubs. While playing for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain, and Manchester United, “Ibra” has won the UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Serie A, the Eredivisie, and Ligue 1. As Zlatan said himself, “We have four billion playing football in the world. And imagine when you are on top how you feel. It feels good up here.” In his Galaxy debut, Ibrahimovic scored a rocket from nearly half field and header goal in the dying minutes of the game to win in a thrilling game with a scoreline of 3-2. His future in the US is very, very bright.
In 2015, Spanish soccer legend, David Villa, joined NYCFC. Over the course of Villa’s career, he has played for Barcelona and Atletico Madrid among other teams. He has won the UEFA Champions League, World Cup, Club World Cup, Euro, and La Liga and is the fifth high scorer of all time for the Spanish National Team. During his campaign in America, Villa has had great success: he has scored countless goals and he even grabbed the MVP award for 2016. As not the strongest league in soccer, the MLS has gotten the reputation of being the place where washed up players go to finish their career. However, Villa was called up again to the Spanish National Team in 2017 and 2018, proving that he is still one of the best Spaniards and showing all of the MLS doubters that the league might not be as bad as they think.
Just this past week, reports appeared of British Wayne Rooney completing a move from Everton to DC United. Although the the 12 million British pound deal is yet to go through, it would be huge for Major League Soccer. Rooney played most of his career at Manchester United, the most winningest British Premier League club of all time, where he scored more than 250 goals and became their all time leading scorer. To put this deal into perspective, Rooney is still only 32 years of age, one year younger than the second best player in the world right now, Cristiano Ronaldo and both of their careers are very far from over.
These guys are going to elevate the MLS into the good books of those snobby, condescending European soccer fans. But don’t get me wrong, the US is also capable of developing great talent, which is what is going to sustain the MLS.