Football, or soccer as they call it in America, did not take off until the early 1990s, with the formation of the Major League Soccer (MLS).
In the early days, the reception towards the sport was not great as it was still foreign for the American audience. To change that MLS tried to Americanize the sport but that was a failed idea as well. But gradually the numbers increased as the game started to mature.
So, after turbulent years, failed concepts, and struggling for TRP, the MLS has steadily grown over the last three decades.
In that growth, a huge part was played by David Beckham, when he signed for LA Galaxy in 2007.
Signing a European star massively boosted the growth and increased the authenticity of the league.
Since then, many European starlets have played in the MLS when they reach the fag end of their careers.
Zlatan, Rooney, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Frank Lampard, have all been a part of the MLS rooster.
The MLS needed to rely on big-name footballers to increase their credibility as a league, but as the years have gone by the league has grown and matured.
It is now self-sustainable and has an identity of its own. No longer it needs to rely on Superstars from Europe and South America to endorse the league.
Collaborations with Liga MX and big plans set for the future will only boost the credibility of the league further.
So, to sum it up, MLS is not a retirement home for the big European and South American superstars, and their commissioner Don Garber agrees.
While he appreciates the interest from Neymar or Lionel Messi, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber warned football’s global stars that US clubs aren’t their retirement homes.
This comes after Neymar’s podcast comments that he “would love to play in the US” for at least a season after his deal with Paris Saint-Germain expires in 2025”
The former Barcelona star noted: “Their season is shorter so I would get three months’ vacation. I would play many more years.”
Garber believes that the MLS has outgrown to need for the presence of big-name footballers to vouch for it.
Garber said MLS had outgrown the days of needing to bolster its image with big-name players in their later years.
“We don’t need to bring in a big-name player at the end of their career because they decided they want to retire in MLS,” Garber said in a conference call with reporters.
“We want our story to be about young players coming here at the earliest stages or in the prime of their career and making our league their league of choice.”
Garber pointed to 30-year-old Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri joining the Chicago Fire this season, saying, “You have players coming at 30. I don’t think 30 is old when you are an MLS player.”
Garber also noted that when Swedish 40-year-old striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the Los Angeles Galaxy for AC Milan in December 2019, “nobody said he went to retire in Italy.”
MLS will grow to 28 sides when an expansion team in Charlotte takes the field this year and to 29 when St. Louis joins in 2023.
And not to forget their tie-up with Liga MX will see them compete in a reimagined Leagues Cup starting in 2023.
A competition in which all of the teams from both leagues will face off against each other!