They've done a decent job concentrating on player development, and aside from Team Beckham out in LA, have resisted temptation to bring in aging has-been big names who have been cast off from their European teams because they just can't hack it any more.
Some people, still, just don't get it. For example, we have this gem from Sports Illustrated's soccer editor Jen Chang.
I don't know this guy or how much he knows about football, but his latest column on the SI site is a list of 10 players MLS should target as designated players. All but one are 30 or older, and would have made one kickass all-star team about 10 years ago. MLS is expanding its rule around designated players, and teams will be able to add two or three players. Chang says this list is where MLS should concentrate its efforts; guys such as Roy Makaay, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry among others.
He summarizes the strengths of each player as testimony as to why they would fit within MLS. OK. Most of these guys have been cast off from the clubs where they made their names and are toiling in smaller leagues for, yes, smaller money. The question is why? Why hurt MLS' credibility and player development efforts but putting has-been players that no one in the US has heard of in spots that should be occupied by younger players with, you know, futures in the game?
Fernando Morientes? Please. Re-teaming Pires with Freddie Ljungberg for Arsenal-West out in Seattle? No thanks. There's little to no value of bringing these guys in. There's no emotional attachment on these shores to Omar Bravo or even Michael Ballack should he leave Chelsea for the U.S. Henry is the only name who could stir moderate interest, but the guy is still contributing for a team in the hunt for more domestic and European glory. Why would he leave for the U.S.? Just to hang out with Beckham and Tiger Woods? Doubtful.
Do we really want MLS to be the Lost island for footballers? Jen Chang's premise needs to crash and burn just like Oceanic 815 did, and just like Lost, let's make this the series finale for this notion that aging stars can close it out here in MLS. It's been done before and it ain't worked.