USA! USA! Er ... no

CityPress - - Sport -

US foot­ball is nowhere near its su­per­power sta­tus. Soc­cer is still con­sid­ered a so­cial sport, and is beloved among school­girls. The coun­try is a pow­er­house of women’s soc­cer.

Al­though the US na­tional men’s team is also well funded and has pulled off sur­prise wins – it made the fi­nal against Spain in the 2009 Fifa Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup here in South Africa – Ma­jor League Soc­cer (MLS) is still seen as a place where play­ers go to have a hol­i­day and cash in be­fore they re­tire. Look­ing at the cal­i­bre of player the league has at­tracted re­cently, not much has changed.

The MLS might have lured high­pro­file play­ers David Beck­ham, Di­dier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Frank Lam­pard, Steven Ger­rard, Kaka and An­drea Pirlo, but they all went in the twi­light of their ca­reers, seek­ing a last big pay­day. The MLS pays th­ese fa­mous names more than they could hope for in Europe. But even with them on board, the league has not reached the heights it aims for.

Last year Ger­rard signed an 18month $9 mil­lion (R141 mil­lion) con­tract with the Los An­ge­les Galaxy, and the for­mer Liverpool cap­tain was al­ready 35. The lat­est faded re­cruit is for­mer Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Ash­ley Cole (also 35), whose con­tract at AS Roma was ter­mi­nated.

The MLS wants to be among the world’s big­gest leagues by 2022, but with the Chi­nese com­ing up strongly, this might be a far-fetched dream.

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