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Old 03-02-2020, 09:43 AM
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In European Soccer, Is Getting Sent To An American Team Seen As A Bad Thing?


Lots of players join Major League Soccer (MLS) from European clubs. ISTR reading somewhere that generally these are men whose best days are behind them.

So if you're a European player and you get sent to play in the U.S., is that considered a bad thing? Kind of like an American Major League Baseball player going to play in Japan -- it's definitely a sign that their career is struggling.

Or is being sent to play for Kansas City or Chicago seen as just as legitimate a career move as being sent to play for Munich or Milan?
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:22 AM
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If we are assuming that the player is coming from a top league - EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, and the like - it's a significant demotion. The anaology to MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball is a good one; playing for Real Madrid is like playing for the LA Dodgers, and playing for Sporting KC is like playing for the Orix Buffaloes. At best; to be honest MLS is probably further below the Premier League than NPB is below MLB in terms of quality.

Of course, it could be good for a player's career if they are struggling to stay in that top league, or are mired in a reserve role, and need regular playing time to develop.
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:36 AM
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MLS has the 16th highest average league salary in the world. It is not even close in pay to the major European leagues. I suspect even if you are one of the top players in MLS, getting well above average, the endorsement possibilities are fewer.

Sure some may have a reason to take much lower pay than their talent would rate. Pay is probably a good proxy, though. Quality players will tend to follow the money. For soccer, the money is not in the US.
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:45 AM
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Yes, it's a significant demotion. Tends to be older players who may use their last few years to earn a bit more cash before they retire (and generally after they've stopped playing for their national team).
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:22 AM
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Most European imports to the US tend to be as stated, players who are either past their best or those who did not manage to hold down a place in a pro Euro league.

David Beckham is one player who came to MLS while he was still performing at a high level (he was Real Madrid’s player of the year the last two years he had played), but he clearly was on the downward trajectory.
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Old 03-02-2020, 11:31 AM
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So if you're a European player and you get sent to play in the U.S.
They are not sent. They go voluntarily. And indeed, often because they can earn more, given that their best years are behind them, or because they cannot keep a spot in a European side of reasonable level.

Last edited by Art Rock; 03-02-2020 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:15 PM
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They are not sent. They go voluntarily. And indeed, often because they can earn more, given that their best years are behind them, or because they cannot keep a spot in a European side of reasonable level.
Exactly- better to play for Real Salt Lake, make reasonable $$ and be a star of sorts, than to go from Arsenal to Oxford United and be a has-been.
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:15 PM
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David Beckham is one player who came to MLS while he was still performing at a high level (he was Real Madrid’s player of the year the last two years he had played), but he clearly was on the downward trajectory.
And, I think it was pretty clear that a big part of Beckham's decision to play in MLS was for the PR, and to increase his own visibility and popularity in the U.S.
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:40 PM
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They are not sent. They go voluntarily. And indeed, often because they can earn more, given that their best years are behind them, or because they cannot keep a spot in a European side of reasonable level.
I wonder how many US sports fans are not aware of this important distinction?
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:42 PM
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I'd say the exception would be a very young, but promising, player who is "loaned" to a team in order to get experience. Usually, the loan is to another European team, but perhaps young American players owned by some of the top teams in Europe might fare better playing closer to home.
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Old 03-02-2020, 08:38 PM
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Also Beckham was given a very good deal to start a new MLS team which he has in Miami. They started play this month in a temporary stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. MLS failed in Miami in 2001 but I guess they hope Beckham can bring in more crowds even as just an owner.
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Old 03-02-2020, 09:03 PM
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Also Beckham was given a very good deal to start a new MLS team which he has in Miami. They started play this month in a temporary stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. MLS failed in Miami in 2001 but I guess they hope Beckham can bring in more crowds even as just an owner.
Was this promised in advance of his move to LA?
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Old 03-02-2020, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackknifed Juggernaut View Post
Was this promised in advance of his move to LA?
It was apparently part of his initial contract with the Galaxy in 2007. As per Wikipedia:

Quote:
In the months following the announcement [of his signing with Los Angeles], the additional terms of Beckham's contract became public knowledge. One unique contract provision was giving him the option of buying an MLS expansion franchise in any market except New York City at the fixed price of $25 million whenever he stopped playing in the league – an allowance that the league's owners had never given to a player before.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 03-02-2020 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 03-03-2020, 03:24 AM
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And, I think it was pretty clear that a big part of Beckham's decision to play in MLS was for the PR, and to increase his own visibility and popularity in the U.S.
And his wife's, IMHO. I think at the very least, she fancied living in the US and this was probably a factor.
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Old 03-03-2020, 08:19 AM
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Foreign players in MLS tend to be in a couple different categories.

1 - Past their prime stars. In the early days of the league this was a lot of severely over the hill players, but more recently it's been (mostly) guys with some left in their tank, but not able to compete at the highest level. A change of pace before retirement.

2 - Journeymen that couldn't hack it in the big leagues and would get paid more in MLS than they would bouncing around the Belgian or Danish leagues.

3 - Young South and Central American players. This is more recent, but Atlanta especially have looked to sign attractive talent, play them for a couple years, and then sell on to bigger leagues. Miguel Almiron is the main one, but I imagine Barco and Pity Martinez will also leave eventually.

The most criticism is probably at the people in group 2 that thought they would be playing for Liverpool. If you leave your home country, are in a big club's 2nd division team, go on loan, bounce around, and then end up in MLS at 27, you're probably considered a failure. If you're a 33 year old Thierry Henry/David Villa/David Beckham, then you're a legend that is adjusting to a new level and/or going on an adventure in a new country. I tend to see MLS get shit for that more than I see those players denigrated for going there.
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:34 AM
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MLS DC united signed an American kid at 14 and he played 87 games for them. After that he did not really do much, bounced around for the next 10 years. He was born in Ghana.
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:51 AM
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MLS DC united signed an American kid at 14 and he played 87 games for them. After that he did not really do much, bounced around for the next 10 years. He was born in Ghana.
Freddy Adu, in case anyone is curious.
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:51 AM
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And his wife's, IMHO. I think at the very least, she fancied living in the US and this was probably a factor.
I think it is pretty much accepted Mrs. Beckham's desire to expand and develop her new career (which in the event she did very successfully) was probably the driving force behind his decision. The ownership agreement clause was more of a sweetener and an expression of hope. Otherwise at that time it was pretty puzzling why he woud move, he was still worth a place in a top side.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snarky_Kong
1 - Past their prime stars. In the early days of the league, this was a lot of severely over the hill players, but more recently it's been (mostly) guys with some left in their tank, but not able to compete at the highest level. A change of pace before retirement.
Agreed. Beckham started it. And since then Henry and Villa moved when they still were playing well, Villa right after starting a Champions League final. Villa also has gone the ownership route as well.
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
Lots of players join Major League Soccer (MLS) from European clubs. ISTR reading somewhere that generally these are men whose best days are behind them.

So if you're a European player and you get sent to play in the U.S., is that considered a bad thing? Kind of like an American Major League Baseball player going to play in Japan -- it's definitely a sign that their career is struggling.

Or is being sent to play for Kansas City or Chicago seen as just as legitimate a career move as being sent to play for Munich or Milan?
Think of the US as the nice big farm upstate for footballers.
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Old 03-03-2020, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Art Rock View Post
They are not sent. They go voluntarily. And indeed, often because they can earn more, given that their best years are behind them, or because they cannot keep a spot in a European side of reasonable level.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Wiggler View Post
I wonder how many US sports fans are not aware of this important distinction?
It's the same with American baseball players going to Japan. No one is sending them to Japanese clubs. They go voluntarily. It's not like being sent to the minor leagues.
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Old 03-04-2020, 06:45 AM
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Some NHL players go to Europe when they can't make the NHL. A few big names have gone to Russia if they grew up there.
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Old 03-04-2020, 08:25 AM
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So, Victor Wanyama just signed in MLS from Tottenham Hotspur. He's 28 and been a rotation player for Tottenham. I think this is probably going to be seen as admitting he's not cut out for a starter at a top club in one of the big 4 leagues, but not as a retirement step. More like heading back to Celtic.
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Old 03-05-2020, 08:36 PM
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I wonder how many US sports fans are not aware of this important distinction?

I would say the younger fans that grew up watching EPL and playing soccer videogames know. Some MLS teams still draw big crowds but if teams were to bring in Neymar, Mbappe and Eden Hazard the league would draw huge crowds and be in the US sports mainstream. The league would also be broke in 5 years.


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Old 03-06-2020, 07:53 AM
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I would say the younger fans that grew up watching EPL and playing soccer videogames know. Some MLS teams still draw big crowds but if teams were to bring in Neymar, Mbappe and Eden Hazard the league would draw huge crowds and be in the US sports mainstream. The league would also be broke in 5 years.


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Or separated into divisions based on financial and on-field success. If there is big money to be made, somebody will find a way to tap into those revenue streams.
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