The summer transfer window has officially begun and there are several rumors and moves that have already been made. The biggest ones we all know are the moves from New York City FC and the LA Galaxy bringing in players like Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and most likely Giovani Dos Santos, which gives Major League Soccer some of the biggest names in the sport.
Everybody wants MLS to be a top tier league immediately, but remember, MLS is only 20 years old. The top soccer leagues around the world are much, much older than MLS. Expecting this league to be one of the top leagues in the world this early is asking for too much.
One thing we can enjoy while we have the chance is the opportunity to watch players begin their careers and move on to do bigger and better things.
There have been several players that have begun their careers and moved on to do bigger and better things in soccer. Everybody's favorite goalkeeper, Tim Howard, began playing professionally in Major League Soccer as a member of the New York/New Jersey MetroStars from 1998 to 2003. After winning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2001 and playing 27 of 28 regular season games, he was transferred to Manchester United and began his European soccer career.
Howard is not the only player to use MLS as a stepping stone. U.S. National Team midfielder Michael Bradley began with the Metrostars before moving to the Netherlands. His current Toronto F.C. and U.S. teammate Jozy Altidore also got his start in New York as a 16-year old.
Clint Dempsey started with the New England Revolution, Brad Guzan with Chivas USA, and Columbus Crew SC's own Kei Kamara and Michael Parkhurst, all began their careers in Major League Soccer before going abroad.
The most recent player to do jump overseas from MLS is DeAndre Yedlin, who was a Seattle Sounders homegrown player, played two seasons with the club, then was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur. Who is to say that a player like Will Trapp or Ben Swanson can't do the same? Maybe a player like Gyasi Zardes, who is starting for the U.S. National Team or Canadian National Team player Russell Teibert could be the next players to use MLS as a stepping stone.
What I am trying to say is that players using MLS as a spring board for a player's careers isn't a bad thing. How cool is it that we get to watch players begin their careers and move on to be international superstars? I have come to view MLS as a triple-A baseball league. With the homegrown systems and the afilliations with USL teams, Major League Soccer has everything it needs to develop players to be superstars. All they need is time. Players begin their careers with their respective MLS club, play a year or two and move on.
There is nothing wrong with MLS being a feeder league for the bigger European leagues as it continues to develop. Many current MLS players have started their careers here then moved on to play in Europe and many have come back to finish their careers with the league in which they started.
No, the MLS is not one of the best leagues in the world right now. That takes time.
Soccer is a fast growing sport in America and it is only a matter of time before the United States develops a superstar that will start his career in MLS and move on to be an international soccer superstar abroad.