Football in the U.S.A seemed like a distant dream a few years back, but with the advent of the Major League Soccer, Americans have warmed to the idea of association football, and in fact, MLS has a growing audience base.
Most of the biggest clubs like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool, AC Milan and Juventus, all took major hits as the most famous names exited their former clubs to play for MLS. What became the loss of such clubs, subsequently became the gain of MLS, as now, it boasts of having dozens of well-famed veteran players all playing in one league against each other.
With the ever-growing league making its way into foreign audiences slowly, here’s a list of the top 5 big players who made a switch from their former league to the MLS!
- Steven Gerrard – LA Galaxy
There was no shadow of doubt that Gerrard, even in the EPL, was a tremendous player capable of tearing apart any team. However, football is a team game and no matter how good you are, the rest of your team can either bring you up or get you down.
He did have a good run with Liverpool and was the darling of Anfield, but then all good things come to an end. Gerrard’s announcement broke a lot of hearts, but even the fans agreed that this would possibly be the best move in his career.
At LA Galaxy, with all the star power that LA they have in their lineup, the hope is that if one player has an off night, several others can step up and take over a game just like that.
That was pretty much evident as Steven Gerrard and Gyasi Zardes put in impressive shifts for LA in their 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo at StubHub Center, buoyed by the Englishman’s beautiful 66th-minute goal.
Gerrard has been one of the better players for LA Galaxy, and with the way he gets support from the team, moving indeed was a good choice for him.
- David Villa – New York City F.C
He has carried NYCFC almost single-handedly after a disappointing season for the new franchise. With 18 goals and eight assists he has been head and shoulders above the rest.
Against Montreal in their recent game, Villa scored in the 35th, beating Victor Cabrera to a pass at the edge of the 18-yard box and scoring with a low shot. It was the Spaniard’s league-leading 13th and his fifth in as many games against Montreal over two seasons.
MLS top goalscorer David Villa, Jack Harrison and Frank Lampard were all on target as New York City accounted for Montreal Impact 3-1. On the day Villa and Andrea Pirlo were named in the MLS All-Star squad set to face Arsenal next week.
- Kaka – Orlando City
Kaka has always belonged in the list of players that every football fan loves, no matter which team they support. The entire footballing community welcomed his decision to move to the MLS, and now, the Orlando City captain is proving to be worth it.
Orlando City drew against Crew SC in Columbus and during the first 45 minutes, Columbus controlled the match, dominating possession and taking a 2-0 lead to the break as Orlando struggled to cope on the road.
While the turnaround started from the second half whistle, the game changed with the introduction of Kaka. The Brazilian playmaker missed the last three games with a calf injury and came off the bench for the Lions in the 60th minute, and proved why is regarded as one of the best footballers of our time.
- Didier Drogba – Montreal Impact
The Chelsea legend is still absolutely red hot in front of goal even at the ripe old age of 38. His pace may not be the same as in his Stamford Bridge prime, but even the slightest sniff of goal and he’s in.
Drogba bagged his second MLS hat-trick in the 5-1 thrashing of Philadelphia Union for his current club Montreal Impact. It was a vintage goal-scoring performance by the veteran striker as he ghosted in unmarked to finish at the back-post for his first after a clever one-two in the build-up.
However, Drogba was experiencing a bit of a dry spell as he hadn’t scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.
- Andrea Pirlo – New York City F.C
The New York City FC midfielder ranks first in overall retail sales of adidas MLS jerseys on MLSstore.com since the start of 2016. Dempsey — who had the best-selling jersey in each of the last two years — currently ranks second, and both players were joined in the top 10 by teammates.
The fan-favourite made the switch from Juventus to New York City FC in summer 2015 and a year later, he has solidified himself as the league’s most popular player.