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Strong USMNT presence in MLS signals the league’s future structure

Aug 24, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

USMNT AP

We have seen many U.S. men’s national team head down the MLS path in the past few years. Clint Dempsey leaving Tottenham for Seattle Sounders FC in 2013 was obviously one of the more notable additions to MLS, and this year, Michael Bradley exiting AS Roma to star on Toronto FC was another big move. In 2014, DeMarcus Beasley left the Liga MX in Mexico and came across the border to feature on the Houston Dynamo.

It’s not only USMNT footballers coming to the MLS from elsewhere that marks the strong presence of national team players in the league.

By utilizing Designated Player status, certain squads have locked up stays of talented players who have already played in MLS for years. Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, both signed with Sporting Kansas City this season as Designated Players, instead of entertaining the possibility of performing in Europe. Defender Omar Gonzalez and former Chris Wondolowski both inked DP contracts a year ago.

And several of these players, despite the fact that none are budding teenagers ready to take soccer by storm, made an impact for the United States in the World Cup.

Zusi showed spark now and then. Dempsey was the best attacker on the field for the United States, notching two important goals against Ghana and Portugal. Besler and Gonzalez were often noticed holding the defense together by a thread. Nevertheless, they, with an ample amount of help from Tim Howard vs. Belgium, managed to keep other teams at bay.

Overall, the MLS has a decently impressive group of U.S. talent, primarily based on their showings at the World Cup, and with the addition of Jermaine Jones to the New England Revolution, that congregation has expanded further.

Getting men’s national teams player from abroad is definitely the first step, but twenty years down the road, the goal will revolve around having a larger core of USMNT players, and more proficient men at that.

Through the utilization of youth academies, which have sprung up at every team across the league, the progression of soccer in America is hoped to emerge on the national scene from these outlets—many MLS players, able to draw the interest of teams in Europe, forming the makeup MLS on regular, non-DP contracts.

That’s the dream, and for now, it’s just about building U.S. momentum.

  1. jslip1 - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    Dempsey left Spurs.

    • Duncan Day - Aug 24, 2014 at 9:46 PM

      Thanks. He was out on loan to Fulham prior to this season’s start.

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