New York City FC might be treated by some football betting fans in Europe with derision given its very strong ties to Manchester City, but there can be no doubt the newest franchise in the MLS has already made a splash.
Despite having just six players on their roster at the time of writing, New York City FC have already demonstrated the growing allure of the MLS by signing Frank Lampard and David Villa.
Both are superstars in Europe, with Lampard Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer, while Villa tops the goal charts for the Spanish national team. The duo are extremely well known in their home countries, hence why it was a surprise to many to see them move to the MLS.
Both had offers to stay in Europe but the chance to be part of an exciting new project, coupled with a large pay packet, saw them agree to join a team that won’t play its first game until 2015.
We are used to teams in the MLS pulling off major coups to sign big name players but they appear to be occurring on a more regular basis now. The performance of the United States team at the World Cup has helped to spread the word of ‘soccer’ on a national level once again, opening the doors for the MLS to attract a raft of new supporters.
Familiar names will be key to that plan, so it was with a heavy heart that Seattle Sounders allowed DeAndre Yedlin to join Tottenham in August. Yedlin is an exciting, young talent who shone at the World Cup and he is surely the future of football in the US.
Therefore, while it is important to attract the big names to the MLS, it is also vital that teams don’t let the best home-grown talent go if the game is to grow stateside.
New York City FC, and David Beckham’s Miami franchise, are bound to bring in more household names and attract more fans in the process. And, given time, MLS teams will be able to hang on to their best young players, as long as the league keeps growing at its current rate.
The MLS might never challenge the top leagues in European but it has laid the foundations to be a force in its own right.