Several months after many of Europe’s top leagues returned, Major League Soccer, also known as the MLS, is finally back.
The first match took place on July 8, as the first-ever Florida rivalry took place between Orlando City and Inter Miami. Orlando City won the match in the 97th minute thanks to a goal from former Manchester United star Luis Nani. The next day, the MLS had its first morning game of the MLS Is Back Tournament, with Philadelphia Union beating New York City 1-0. Whilst on paper this might look like a great start of the tournament for the MLS, it has actually been less than ideal for many reasons.
Not Every Team Is Participating
This isn’t exactly something the MLS can control, but it’s happened none the less. The tournament was supposed to involve all 26 MLS teams, but on July 6, FC Dallas informed the MLS that the club would not be participating in the return tournament. FC Dallas reportedly had 10 players with COVID-19, as well as one staff member affected.
Now, the number of teams participating has gone down some more. Nashville SC announced on July 9 that they would be withdrawing from the tournament.
Ultimately this is good for the formation of the tournament, as they can switch to an easier format of six groups of four teams, rather than six groups with one group of six. However, it isn’t good that Nashville will not be participating in their debut season as they were expected to increase the popularity of the sport in the South.
Lack Of Superstars
This is something the MLS control. When David Beckham created Inter Miami, rumors swirled about who the club were going to sign. Earlier in the year, Inter Miami were linked to James Rodriguez, Gareth Bale and David Silva. Who did Beckham use his popularity and finances to sign? Rodolfo Pizarro, Wil Trapp, and Luis Robles. Not bad players, but considering who the club were linked to, it was a disappointing transfer window.
And that’s not even including the players who have left within the previous year. Chicago Fire’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, who won a World Cup with Germany, retired. New York RedBulls’ Kemar Lawrence, widely considered one of the best fullbacks in the MLS, left to go to Anderlecht. Zack Steffen, the future of the US Mens’ National Team, left to join Manchester City. And Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the greatest MLS players of all time, left LA Galaxy for FREE to join AC Milan. To be fair, LA Galaxy did replace him with Javier Hernandez, also known as Chicharito. It just seems like a letdown for a league that used to have David Villa, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba to no longer have as many superstars.
One of the superstars in the tournament is Josef Martinez, but he won’t be playing at all. Martinez got injured in March, suffering a cruciate ligament rupture and he is out for several months. Martinez joins a long list of injured players, including LA Galaxy’s Jonathan dos Santos. Jonathan is the brother of Giovani dos Santos, who currently plays for Club America in Mexico after stints in Turkey, England, Spain and America with LA Galaxy. Giovani left in 2019 but Jonathan has stayed and is now the captain of LA Galaxy. He will miss the tournament due to groin surgery.
The MLS has received backlash for the tournament for a variety of issues, from player safety to smaller things, like the superimposed Adidas logo on the middle of the pitch.
However, it’s good that the MLS has in fact returned, and we can only hope it stays and all goes well.
That is my review of the MLS returning. If you have any questions for me, please leave a comment. Don’t worry if your comment does not show up, all comments must be approved due to the amount of spam comments received. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!