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Picking up EPL veterans is harder than you think

Apr 30, 2013, 10:10 AM EDT

Queens Park Rangers' Park challenges Sunderland's Larsson during their English Premier League soccer match in London Reuters

If the latest rumors of EPL imports to Major League Soccer doesn’t get your heat racing, we forgive you.

This is the time of year that domestic campaigns in Europe begin to shut down and players out of contract, out of favor or hoping for a fresh start begin to look elsewhere.

MLS often pops up as an option.

Five or six years ago, the potential for Park Ji-Sung or Jermaine Pennant joining MLS teams would’ve been lauded by most. ‘A step in the right direction,’ some would say. A ‘huge day for MLS attracting Designated Players the right side of 30,’ others may add.

But this is now.

So it begs the question: is the influx of EPL castaways becoming too large in MLS? Let’s look at those who have recently made the trek West across the pond. The likes of Robbie Keane, David Beckham and Thierry Henry are three ex-EPL stars who’ve undoubtedly been a success.

But there are a smattering of younger players — such as Simon Dawkins on loan at San Jose last season, Lloyd Sam at New York and Giles Barnes at Houston — who have left England and shown great promise. That’s because they are hungry and need to prove they are still good enough. Those are the type of players the league and clubs should work harder to recruit.

It is perhaps to early to judge John Bostock, Robert Earnshaw and Hogan Emprhaim at Toronto FC and Nigel Reo-Coker at Vancouver, but Earnshaw is certainly proving a huge success with his goals and perfomances thus far.

But on the flip side, more and more players have continued to flood over from the UK for one final payday in recent seasons, as they edge closer to 35. The likes of Barry Robson and Kenny Miller at Vancouver have underperformed and the fact that Park and Pennant could follow in their footsteps must be a worry for any potential suitor. But then again these are just rumors, don’t forget.

Personally, I think Park  could be an inspirational signing for Ryan Nelsen at Toronto FC. He would be a leader, brings something completely different to the squad and of course, the huge economic advantage of having South Korea’s legendary play maker on the books could help sway the deal.

With Pennant the jury is still out. He could be a Barnes, but he could also emulate Robson. Turns out that being in the market for an EPL veteran is a lot harder than you think.

  1. charliej11 - Apr 30, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    EPL players are a dime a dozen.

    The problem with the EPL guys who want to leave is that they are the players that believe, probably correctly, that they are not going to move up to a team that has a chance of winning.

    IF it is Henry, who doesn’t want to play for a perma loser, that is ok, he is pretty good. Maybe his desire to play in all the games is lacking, he is used to not doing so and he doesn’t have the hunger like a Lenhardt.
    IF it is Joe Blow, trying to get out of playing for the perma losers…..maybe, maybe not. Either way MLS has a ton to offer them and as the money rises, you are going to see way too many of them.

    Because their leagues are such a joke, we don’t need them nearly as much as they need us.

  2. dfstell - Apr 30, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    I don’t mind it. Let the clubs sign who they want and don’t worry so much about where they are from. Success on the field sorts this stuff out.

    To me, the biggest problem with the older EPL players is they may not understand what they’re in for. Suddenly, their teammates will be less technical and that means they will have to work HARDER to be as effective as they were before. If older EPL players come here, they need to do it with the right expectation.

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