Here I’ll take my very first look at the MLS, as I try to prepare you for a fast paced, colorful, exciting and lesser known league.
The Draft has come and gone, the Super Draft has come and gone, and that means we’re now on the home stretch to the new MLS season.
The majority of MLS sides have now returned to training, with Sporting KC players regularly tweeting photos and updates from their first day back as they underwent initial testing. The pre-season process is familiar to me and all regular MLS followers, but my job is to begin preparing all the new comers who on Terry Tipster will be betting for the first time on this league.
MLS has long since dropped its reputation of purely being a retirement home. Slowly but surely the talent that’s flocking over the border is becoming younger and more current. This, perhaps, summed up by the proposed Frank Lampard deal.
I, many LA Galaxy fans and MLS Press are being prepared for the seemingly increasingly likely scenario that Frank Lampard is announced as a Galaxy player in the next 14 days. Bruce Arena quite openly spoke about the attempted deals for Kaka, and Lampard, although Kaka in my opinion will no way be joining the league.
Through my build up I’ll be talking about every team, but to start I’ll ease you in by what you know. As you already know the MLS is known for a regular influx of known European names, however lately it’s had a steady mix of past stars, players nearer their peak and currently footballers going from the Championship and Premiership to the League.
Let’s start by looking at some names you may know.
We all know Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry, Torsten Frings, Arne Freidrich, De Guzman, Nesta, Di Vaio, etc, but here are a few names you might not of know about – but you will know!
Knowing that we have a few Scottish followers, 3 names will catch your eye immediately in the MLS. The all time leading Scottish Premier League goal scorer Kris Boyd will be starting his second season with the Portland Timbers (although he spent most of the first in awful form) he still managed a fair few goals.
A good return given his apparent lack of quality, sorry, Rangers fans!
Two names known to everyone in British Football will be Barry Robson and Kenny Miller. Known for his time at Dundee, Celtic, and appearances with Scotland, Robson netted 3 times in his first 17 games for the Vancouver Whitecaps – he’ll also be known by Boro’ fans.
Miller has scored over150 career goals split between the Scottish Prem, English Prem and the Championship and he joined Robson at Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada last season.
One team with familiar names are now New England. The Boston side signed two Championship players over the off season, pulling Kalifa Cisse from Bristol City and Andy Dorman from Crystal Palace. Neither should start, but will be worth looking out for.
The Galaxy were at it again recruiting known names, and with Lamps on the horizon they’ve already signed Carlo Cuduccini and Brazilian Juninho this season.
Leicester fans might remember young prospect Reggie Lambe that never quite made the first team – now playing for Toronto FC – But its Leeds fan that will be most familiar with the league of all English fans. Lloyd Sam, Darren O’ Dea and Andy O’ Brien have all transferred from Leeds United to the league in recent times. A scary prospect is the hapless efforts of O’ Dea and O’ Brien in one league, let alone one team.
Leeds fans you won’t be surprised to know O’ Deas side finished with one of the worst records in MLS history, while O’ Brien’s trademark slip nearly cost Vancouver a place in the playoffs – shock, right?
Korean legend and ex Spurs Y.P Lee also features for Vancouver. However, Spurs fans may have a more active interest in Simon Dawkins. He’s been with the club since 2004 and despite not breaking through yet, and even though he’s now 24, I’m under the belief he could be a first team squad member one day. Keep an eye out for his awesome passing and goal scoring abilities for San Jose again this year.
Man United fans may remember Richard Eckersley. Whilst it didn’t quite work out in England, he’s made a decent name for himself in Toronto.
More noticeable however will be West Brom midfielder Giles Barnes. A very good footballer who after several bad injuries lasted no longer in England, but now is trying hard to force himself a career with the Houston Dynamo.
Hendry Thomas, Caleb Folan also joined the league recently alongside Barcelona B’S Oriol Rossell and Bayern Munich’s young goal scoring machine Saer Sene, who never broke through after injury.
Many known, new names to look out for this season - young and old - and from next week I’ll start our look at each individual team and their regular MLS crop, as we start to assess their chances for the season ahead and where our money may often lay.