Right then, as a Scotsman who played a decent amount of football trying to follow in the boots of his father and great grandfather, I must confess the MLS is arriving as a competitive league. The pace and determination of the MLS players proved a shock to both the Manchester City and Man United sides on Sunday. Gone are the days when an EPL or Serie A team can bring over their youth side or reserves and run over, around and through an MLS side and get a result.
The league has come a long way since Andy Zorovich and his fellow part-timers with the Tampa Bay Mutiny fed off of one decent player. Back in those early days Andy’s side had Carlos “what happened to his hair” Valderama and a host of former Americans college players, who struggled with their first touch, could not put 5 passes together or manage to keep the ball against even the slightest amount of pressure. Those early days were a distant spec on the horizon in the rear view mirror on Sunday, as the MLS drives on toward dare I say it, actually competitive sides.
The biggest shocker for me was Kansas City who even down to 10 men kept a Manchester United side with Giggs and Scholes doing their best off the score sheet for 55 minutes! I watched the match on Man United TV and the commentators kept on about Kansas City being 5th in the table but they didn’t even recognize the split tables in MLS or that they are actually 13th in the table as a whole. This was not even a decent MLS side and look at the result!
Surely I am over reacting and this is some kind of fluke, yet looking back on Sunday night’s matches and having given myself a full day to ponder the question the answer is still that MLS players can play with anyone. Yes for the most part City and United ran out their younger players or reserves but these are City and Manchester United two teams who have the choice of any young players in the world facing MLS sides with a salary cap system yet still managed to get a result, not against one of them but both of them and on the same day.
Some will say “It’s a pre-season game,” or “it’s a friendly” rubbish, for those City and United players on the pitch this was a chance to make a huge statement to Sir Alex and Mancini about staying on the side, and they could not get it done. Now before you get all lathered up I am not stating that Kansas City or Philadelphia could go the Manchester in December and get a result but 10 years ago both of these results were unthinkable. New York or L.A. I think could nick an away point already!
How will Sir Alex approach the MLS All-stars now that his side has been beaten in Kansas City? I don't know but he was none to pleased after the match and the Man United TV people were in a state of shock. It was brilliant to watch them make excuses about the match officials, the heat and the fitness of their players, brilliant.
Sir Alex had better sort it out quickly or tomorrow night after 90 minutes he will have borne witness to a decade of MLS progress and a 4-0 or 5-0 score line going against him.
The MLS All-stars versus Manchester United result may not be a harbinger of things to come for United as many of their stars are not playing and Rooney was left at home but it will tell a story of things to come for the MLS. When this fixture was announced I was hoping that the American lads could make a match of it, but now I am no longer just hoping for a decent match, I am wondering if United can compete. An MLS All-star result tomorrow against Manchester United could show the world that the American’s are coming on, and I for one think they are coming on quickly. Don't miss this match!