Since England legend David Beckham signed for LA Galaxy back in 2007, a whole host of big names have since opted for a stint in Major League Soccer. Many view MLS as a retirement league – the place where these star players go for one last payday when they no longer have the legs to play in Europe’s top divisions – but they provide just as much to the league as the league does to thThis summer has been no different. Since the European domestic leagues ended in May, we have already seen three stars join the likes of David Villa and Kaka in America, and even more could be on their way.
The Italian star has never been one to shy away from a shock transfer. Formerly an Inter Milan player, a significantly younger Pirlo chose to move to their city rivals AC Milan. After 10 years with the Rossoneri, he then joined Italian champions Juventus.
His contract at Juventus ran until 2016, and the chart-topping club were more than happy to keep him for, at the very least, the remainder of his contract, but he himself made the decision to join the likes of Lampard and David Villa at New York City FC this summer.
Aged 36, most players would be beginning to consider their future, but the Italian international still believes that he has a number of years in the game.
Speaking at the press conference to announce his arrival, Pirlo stated, “I am not old, I want to keep playing and feel good.”
Luckily, Pirlo’s game has never involved speed, and in his later years it hasn’t involved much running either. Although, it is his vision and ability to provide that killer pass that makes him so dangerous to opposition defenses.
Despite David Villa’s efforts, with 10 goals from 17 games, NYC FC have struggled in the Eastern Conference so far, currently sitting in a lowly 9th place. However, Pirlo’s pin-point passing, coupled with his set-piece abilities, could single-handedly see the club become a title-challenging team though we did not see much of him last week in his debut in the club’s 5 – 3 win over Orlando City.
Lampard is another part of the NYC FC jigsaw, and he is certainly a large piece. Slotting in alongside Pirlo in the middle of the park, the club now possess one of the best midfield duos in the MLS, if not the world.
Frank Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, and frequently managed 20 goals a season while at his peak. With 8 goals from midfield for Manchester City last season, the Premier League legend proved that he still has plenty to give. NYC FC need goals, having scored just 24 times in the MLS since the season kicked off, and Lampard is certain to provide just that.
The 37-year-old caused a stir in December after it was revealed that he would be remaining at Manchester City until the end of the Premier League season. A considerable number of fans demanded a refund on their season tickets and the cost of a replica shirt bearing his name plummeted. However, that only proves just how much having a player of Lampard’s calibre means to the fans.
After postponing his introduction twice in July, Frank Lampard was helpless as New York City FC slipped to a 3-2 home defeat against Montreal Impact on his MLS debut.
After 17 years at Liverpool, Gerrard announced that he would be departing for the MLS at the turn of the year, despite being offered a new contract by the Premier League club.
Gerrard has made an instant impact at LA Galaxy. His debut MLS game saw him snatch a goal, set up Robbie Keane for another and win his side a penalty in the 5-2 mauling of San Jose Earthquakes. Gerrard has always had an eye for goal, but some were concerned whether he still possessed such devastating attacking abilities during the later stages of his Liverpool career, as Brendan Rodgers went about converting him into a defensive midfielder. However, Bruce Arena certainly doesn’t feel the same way, and is likely to use the England legend in a more advanced role.
Speaking to the club’s official website, the LA Galaxy coach stated, “We’re not bringing him here to be a defensive midfielder. He needs to be a little bit closer to goal.”
To have both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard arrive in America at the same time will be great for the league, given that they have spent much of their careers battling against each other for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively. The two clubs shared a bitter rivalry over the years, and fans of the MLS can only hope that they bring the same fierce competition to their new clubs.
The former Kop has had a fruitful debut than his European colleagues as he scored one and played a role in two of Robbie Keane’s three goals as the LA Galaxy came from 2-0 down to beat their California rivals San Jose by 5-2.
Football fans need to be entertained, and these three players are likely to do just that. With plenty of technical skill, goals and passion between them, they will only add to what is already a rapidly growing sporting competition. They may well be receiving an inflated pay packet each week that they are unlikely to pick up elsewhere, but given the attention that they will bring to the league, in terms of local support, international interest and commercial opportunities, they will undoubtedly prove to be worth every single penny.