As the quality of the MLS, the top tier in the American football landscape, continues to improve, more major players seem to be willing to have a go at playing in North America, despite having high-quality fuel left in the tank. As such, in the last few days, the major cities of New York and Los Angeles respectively, had reason to celebrate the arrival of some of world football’s finest.
On the east coast, it was Italian legend and midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo who triggered the country’s most important football news of the week by confirming his move to ambitious NYC side New York City FC. The Italian seems to be aging like a wine and has been playing some of his best football in 2015. As such, the MLS will not only be treated to a big name, but also to a player who is arguably at his peak, having just played a Champions League final.
Pirlo joins New York with the experience of almost 700 senior appearances for the likes of AC Milan and Juventus, and with a trophy cabinet packed with a World Cup victory, a couple of Champions League titles and several league winners’ medals. As a result, NYCFC are getting a true winner and a master of reading the game and understanding its dynamics like no other. With the addition of the Italian maestro, fans in New York can also look forward to some outrageous free-kicks and unimaginable passes.
Pirlo will link up with English great Frank Lampard, who left Manchester City this summer, after having previously won everything with English giants Chelsea. At New York City FC, Lampard will complement Pirlo’s game with a more dynamic and intense approach to the game. Ultimately, NYCFC will be getting a midfield made up of a great passing range, intelligent runs and the ability to exploit channels. In addition to this, Lampard is regarded as one of the world’s most prolific midfielders, having scored 211 times during his stay at Chelsea, making him the club’s most all-time top goalscorer.
At the other end of the United States, in Los Angeles to be precise, the Galaxy faithful will soon have the opportunity to witness one of England’s greatest in action. Steven Gerrard finally leaves his beloved Liverpool to ply his trade at the LA Galaxy. Similarly to Andrea Pirlo, Gerrard is by no means a blockbuster signing for marketing purposes. The elegant and energetic midfielder and former England captain could have easily played at the highest European level for a number of years. Yet, Gerrard decided to contribute to the ever-growing popularity of football in the States and took his talents to California.
Consequently, Galaxy supporters will have the opportunity to watch one of the world’s best-ever box-to-box players and set-piece masters. After 708 senior appearances, 186 goals and a Champions League medal to his name, Stevie G, as he is referred to at Anfield, leaves Merseyside with his head held high and his mind full of ambitions. Make no mistake, Gerrard is a game-changer and will certainly lift the LA Galaxy closer to the top of the MLS, with title competitors having to watch out for the Californian side.
Essentially, the progress of the MLS is evident in the type of players the league seem to be able to attract. As a result, it will be interesting to see as to how local talents will benefit from the likes of Lampard and Pirlo being around. In any case, US football’s future looks brighter than ever before.