Luckily, the MLS allowed all followers of stateside soccer an astonishing precedent this last year with the transfer of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley; otherwise the latest MLS transfer would be headline news. Jermaine Jones is heading to the MLS and the brash midfielder will be joining the New England Revolution. While this entire article could be comprised about how confusing it is that Jones ended up with his new team, the article where we say the “MLS Continues to Require We Accept Odd Rules,” is not currently in the process. But, why does this newest move have a need for the fan-base to lead with patience?
For the mass of people still decrying the MLS and screaming for it to be the carbon copy of the EPL, this move does (genuinely) show that the American league is still taking steps towards being a legitimate league. Do you remember when the All-Star Game used to just involve a European power beating an MLS to a pulp? The game this season, while one victory can never be justified as a trend, showed that the gulf is no longer as wide as the oceans that separate the MLS from the European giants. While there is no MLS team that could hold their own within the realm of a major European league (perhaps stave off relegation, but nothing else), it now looks like the players actually play a similar level of soccer.
So, this is where the call for patience comes in, and why you can’t allow the success in the recent All-Star Game to cloud your judgment…seeing the MLS on par with other major leagues is still a decade (or more) away. Don Garber and the owners are aware of this and the league is taking small, researched, intelligent steps whenever a situation allows. Looking for relegation? No, as the financial gap between MLS and the next step down would not support it. Looking for the Designated Player slots to disappear soon? No, as the growth of the league has depended on a fair bit of parity within the league itself.
The league is growing. The play is improving. The quality of players that we are seeing within the clubs, the quality of the fan-base with the clubs, and the quality of coverage that we are getting with the league is improving and is showing a continual growth. Understand that the top flight of English soccer has existed for over 100 years and that the MLS is barely over 20 years old! While the dream of the MLS ever eclipsing a major European league is farcical (the U.S.A. has a plethora of major sports leagues to support), the present nature and actions of the MLS seem to point towards a consistent growth. The MLS requires your patience…and your realization that America’s league is a different animal and requires special care.
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