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Major League Soccer's tryst with Europe's ageing elite has been a starry affair

By Rajdeep Saha | Last Updated: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 14:49

Europe's elite footballers in their twilight have found a fashionable cushion to rest on and enjoy the sound benefit of materialism. Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States of America that also comprises clubs from Canada, has offered a lucrative platform for European football heroes to go and spread their love for the game amongst fans and sustain a brand value that signals glamour for the league.

The MLS serves plenty of features on the platter and day after day it is becoming a favourable destination for several star players after they have offered it all in European football. Post winning all the major laurels in Europe, the MLS comes as a source for players to keep an association alive with fans, get playing time and earn big money.

Since David Beckham's move to Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, glamour for football's elite stars has driven them to another continent that has seen fans falling in love with the sport. With the presence of several other popular sports in the country, football has risen up to gain plenty of traction in the US.

The national men team's good performances regularly on big platforms have seen football gain momentum. With the women's team winning the FIFA World Cup recently, the belief in the success of this sport in the nation promises to strengthen further. The MLS too plays a huge role in contributing to the success of football in the US.

Beckham's iconic stature and his success with Manchester United and Real Madrid had enough fans watching him play on television and the dream of finally seeing him with LA Galaxy was a wish come true for many. The flamboyant lifestyle of US cities added with hero-worshipping fans offers a dream scenario to players in the end phase of their careers.

Yes there are several other glittering destinations like China, Australia and Qatar, but their stature isn't as attractive like the MLS. The latter has been successful in providing a better brand of advertising and power which has been highly beneficial. The pre-season tour friendlies in the US, is playing a major role in spreading the game amongst fans.

Beckham's move to LA Galaxy paved a way for several high profile stars over the years to switch to the US. Thierry Henry moved to the New York Red Bulls in 2010 and since then there has been a huge influx. David Villa, Kaka, Clint Dempsey and Robbie Keane followed after having lit up European club football for many years.

2015 gives MLS fans more reasons to smile after Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard made their entry into the cash-rich league. The MLS' plan to have an all-star XI that featured against England's Tottenham Hotspur last month saw several stars play together proved to be a good move. The presence of latest recruits like Pirlo and Lampard both playing for New York City FC, promises more entertainment and hope for organisers and fans alike.

Manchester United skipper Wayne Rooney recently admitted he is considering the MLS as an opportunity, while Barcelona and Spain legend Andres Iniesta too has acknowledged that the US would be his final destination as a player.

An interesting aspect of the MLS is that its season runs from March to October, with the play-off and final getting decided in December-January. A two-month window break allows these high-profile players to return to Europe and play for clubs on loan. Both Beckham and Henry played for the likes of Milan and Arsenal respectively on-loan. Beckham's continuance with the game in USA, saw him make a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain in his late thirties and bow out with the Ligue 1 trophy.

Andrea Pirlo who still is an integral part of the Italian national team, would want to follow in the footsteps of Clint Dempsey and Robbie Keane who have gained a strong foothold in the MLS and continue to play for their respective countries. The MLS has contributed in keeping these stars in constant touch with the game and allowed them to make an impact in several ways.

The profiles of the MLS clubs have risen largely since the move of these football legends and organizers are hoping to get the environment in the team more competitive and strong. Even in terms of business and broadcasting, there has been an upward swing. Several countries have started showing live action of MLS games and also sales of jerseys of all these star players coupled with tickets has contributed to its popularity.

The MLS has proven to be a starry affair and the fans will hope more stars arrive in the upcoming years. The future holds a bright spot for the MLS and everybody involved in it.

First Published: Friday, August 7, 2015 - 14:46

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