The last few months have been pleasantly hectic for Major League Soccer fans. Fifteen MLS players made USMNT’s preliminary squad, while 10 made the final World Cup roster, including Homegrown player, Deandre Yedlin.
After that, the league signed an eight year television agreement that’s worth around $90 million with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision Deportes.
And now, it looks like the league’s persistence and fantastic work has inspired those who run New York City F.C. Even though the team hasn’t played a game, the front office has its eye on two big name players; David Villa and Frank Lampard. The team owned by two of the richest sports organizations in the world, Manchester City and New York Yankees, certainly has the money to lure these players to the US.
Villa might already be headed to New York, or maybe Australia on a short loan before 2015 MLS season starts, but Lampard will make his decision after the World Cup. It was reported that the loyal Blues servant wants to continue playing, but he wouldn’t mind hanging up his boots.
According to standard.co.uk, Chelsea’s all-time leading goal-scorer told Red magazine: “I don’t know if I’ll be at Chelsea next season. I’d like to carry on for two or three more years but it would be good to end on a high. So if that means it all ends tomorrow, I wouldn’t have any regrets.”
There’s a possibility that this rumors will never become realities, but I think it’s only right to ponder what these legends will bring to the league if they decide to join NYCFC. I’ll leave out the obvious “they’ll make the league more popular in Europe,” and only focus on their soccer skill sets.
Lampard is 35-years-old and has dealt with the rigors and pain of both the English Premier League and international soccer for over a decade, but the veteran still has a lot left in the tank. He’s played 55 league games the last two seasons, scoring 21 goals.
In Spain, Villa just finished a very successful first season with Atlético Madrid. He helped the Madrid club win La Liga by scoring 13 goals in 25 starts. He came within minutes of winning the prestigious UEFA Champions League title.
Both players will form a unique attacking tandem that the league has never seen in its 19 years existence. Lampard will act as both a creator and a destroyer. The English midfielder’s leadership and superior IQ makes him a perfect fit in what might be a young team.
Head coach Jason Kreis admitted to the media that he is scouting American-based players and foreign-based players, with an emphasis on Manchester City’s academy.
“There’s actually quite a few very interesting prospects there in Manchester City’s Under-21 team that are from various different countries, not all just from England,” Kreis said. “There’s the potential there to add some really interesting players.
Just like he did during his last few years at Chelsea, Lampard will become the general in the midfield. He’ll run the length of the field and coordinate the younger players. His ability to rub off on his teammate means the younger players will learn a lot from the experience midfielder.
Besides helping his teammates, Lampard will teach the young central midfielders in this league a few things. No offense to Tim Cahill and Michael Bradley, but the league has never signed a central midfielder with Lampard’s resume.
Just imagine how much Wil Trapp and Luis Gil will gain from battling one of the greatest Premier League players. They’ll get to witness firsthand how the legend controls the flow of the game, how he wriggles out of tight spaces, his eloquent first touch, his blistering long range shot, and most importantly, the way he sees the game.
On the other hand, Villa will be the team’s designated finisher. Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer has scored numerous club goals, and that won’t stops if he makes the move to the Big Apple.
They say if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. That’s exactly what MLS defenders will have a chance to do against Villa. Yes, I understand Villa is not the best forward in the world, but he is a world-class striker.
Villa will add to the leagues impressive list of superstar strikers. However, none of those forwards are better than the Spaniard; not even the great Thierry Henry. El Guaje has lost a few steps since his injury at Barcelona, but the 32-year-old is just as good as any forward in the world.
Doneil Henry and other defenders in MLS will be punished on countless occasions by Villa, but they’ll learn from it. The Spaniards sublime first touch and turn will teach the youngsters to always prevent an entry pass and how to stop the forward from turning. His ability to beat an offside trap will in-still the importance of being alert at all times in the defenders. And his overall skill set will expose how good the league’s young defenders are and what needs to be improved.
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