Top 10 Veterans We'd Love to See in MLS
It's undeniable that Major League Soccer has continued its rise in American sports. Attendance and interest has been up, and the quality of games has improved.
Yet there's also the undeniable fact that MLS has become, for better or worse, a league where many veterans of European leagues come to retire.
Fans can debate the merits of this, but it is nonetheless beyond debate that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
So who would we like to see in MLS? Again, this is up for debate as it's a subjective point of discussion. That said, there are a few obvious choices.
Let's take a look at a few of them.
(Keep in mind, some of these are players who we'd like to see in the league, not necessarily people we think will play here.)
10. Rio Ferdinand
The 33-year-old center-back has had an illustrious career. He's played in every possible big game at the club level.
As we know, Sir Alex doesn't always keep veterans around whom he thinks have lost a step (unless your name is Giggs or Scholes).
So it could be sooner rather than later that Rio gets dumped from Manchester United's roster. Why not enjoy the last years of the career in some nice place in America?
And what an addition he would prove to be. As the most prolific goalscorer in Champions League history, Raul would make an amazing addition to the league.
Considering how MLS teams have continued to struggle with their own brand of Champions League soccer, it would be a serious shot in the arm to recruit a player with Raul's pedigree.
8. Alessandro Nesta
A veritable rock in the heart of Italian defenses for the last 15 years, Nesta is someone MLS fans have long admired from a distance.
To get him to come on our side of the Atlantic would be a major splash.
He's won literally everything possible (with the exception of the Euros): Serie A, Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup, Champions League and the World Cup. It's incredible.
Adding a player like that would be nothing but good for a young league like MLS.
7. Frank Lampard
He's had the consistency of a metronome, scoring at least 10 goals in the EPL every year since the 2003-04 season.
All from the midfield.
It's pretty insane. With all the injuries and turnover that happens perpetually in England, here's one man who has refused to let time or wear and tear get to him.
Yet his career can't go on forever in England.
His passing and goal-scoring prowess would surely dazzle American crowds.
6. Carles Puyol
As the focal point of Barcelona's defense in the last decade, he's captained them to every possible trophy that is available to win.
Not only that, but he's a Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 champion.
Playing for a team known for its style, Puyol has added necessary steel.
He would walk into any locker room in MLS and be an immediate leader and force on the field.
5. Alessandro Del Piero
Again, we're already speculating as to when Del Piero will arrive.
He's one of the most illustrious players from his generation.
And what an addition he would be. Adept not only at scoring goals, but also playing with subtlety and intelligence, Del Piero would be a great influence on MLS.
He could show them how to play between the lines and exploit space against some of the more rigid systems that thrive in the league.
4. Didier Drogba
With his bull-rushing style intermixed with undeniable skill, Drogba has been a one-man force for years.
He has long led the line for Chelsea as a sole striker and looked disturbingly comfortable doing it. Few men in soccer can do what he is able to when he's at his best.
Given favorable circumstances, Drogba would decimate MLS (in a good, making-the-top-10-on-SportsCenter way). This would be an amazing signing.
3. Ryan Giggs
The legend himself. The most successful man in the history of the English Premier League, Giggs may very well retire before he's ever even linked with a move to MLS.
Yet while he continues to play, there's hope that he might make a move across the pond.
It would undoubtedly attract attention. Maybe not Beckham attention, but then again Giggs has won more than Beckham.
He's also survived with Sir Alex as his manager longer than any player ever. That alone should secure a Nobel Prize of some form.
2. Steven Gerrard
Gerrard, like Giggs, might simply retire when his Liverpool days finally come to a close.
He's a Scouser through and through, but might be tempted to play a few more seasons in MLS.
Still able to hit the ball on a dime from 40 yards, he would make quite the addition if he so wished.
I personally would be extremely excited at the prospect of watching one of the most exciting players of the last decade play in the local league. His style and charisma would make a sure-fire hit.
This will probably never happen, but it would be pretty amazing if it did. Though he no longer has a fraction of the pace that once made him the best player in the world, Ronaldinho still has the skill.
And he still has the goofy charm that makes him beloved throughout the world.
His influence on the league would definitely increase the quality of passing and flair (though off the field, it might double the partying).
And like Beckham, he could put people in the seats simply by being on the roster. Though he might not wow with the same regularity that he used to, there's still some magic left. It would be thrilling to watch.