Why Foreign Flavor Is Improving the Popularity of MLS

Peter Brownell@pbnoregard11Contributor IMay 10, 2013

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 03: Jamison Olave #4, Thierry Henry #14 and Tim Cahill #17 of New York Red Bulls celebrate a goal during the first half of the game against the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on March 03, 2013 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Major League Soccer recently released information proving it is North America’s most diverse professional sports league. 

Sixty-two nations are represented on the 19 teams that make up soccer’s top competition in Canada and the United States.

Since its inception, MLS has seen foreign stars grace its fields and draw in the attention of fans both abroad and domestic. 

In the early seasons it was South American playmakers like Carlos Valderrama and Marco Etcheverry who won the hearts of supporters with skillful grace and eloquence. It was difficult to determine what was more appealing about them, their unique hairstyles or brilliant ability on the ball. 

More recently foreign superstars like David Beckham (now at PSG) and Thierry Henry have made homes in the States and have done a fantastic job not only as players but as ambassadors of the game as well: bringing world-class résumés and skills to America and Canada’s version of the beautiful game.

Contributions from the greats like those mentioned above are well-noted and documented. 

However, it is not just big-name stars that are making the difference in Major League Soccer these days. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The league is littered with young talents from South and Central America from countries like Colombia, Costa Rica and Honduras. Not only do some of the best players in CONCACAF chose MLS for their club careers, Europeans like Jonny Steele and Joel Lindpere have also picked the states as their destination to pursue a career of professional soccer.

The fruits from such a diverse league make MLS a fascinating watch. Just like America is so uniquely populated with individuals from nations across the world, so is Major League Soccer. Not only can fans attach to players from their own homes but they can also root for someone from a completely different background. 

And in a world that is constantly changing into a global society, that can only be a good thing.

The league’s interest in keeping foreigners a big part of its plans in the future is quite clear. If no other evidence than that of the recent Designated Player signing of the 21-year-old Argentinean Matias Laba by Toronto FC.

Not only did the Reds invest a significant amount of money in a foreign player, but they also did so in a relatively young player. The move here is to say that TFC will look to build around their newly inked Argentinian. More will follow in the near future, no question. 

The more the merrier, for as the league continues to mirror the country it is based in, only good can come. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.