Just a few random facts:
– The USA advanced to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals with a lot of MLS players. Landon Donovan and Brian McBride scored two goals each.
– The USA drew Italy 1-1 in the 2006 World Cup with a lot of MLS players. Only Ghana’s gamesmanship and some ill-timed injuries and loss of form (among the Euro contingent) kept that team from advancing further.
– The USA and England were in the same group in 2010. Remember who won that group? Fewer U.S. players that year were in MLS at the time, but many had spent several years in our little league.
– Other countries that have featured MLS players at the World Cup: Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Honduras, New Zealand.
– MLS players in Euro tournaments: Robbie Keane, Lothar Matthaeus, Roberto Donadoni, Miklos Molnar.
– David Beckham kept going on loan and proving he could still play through the first couple of years of his MLS career. He had already declined from his peak years, yet after several years in the USA, he was still a sought-after player at an advanced age.
– MLS is indeed a physical league. So is the Premier League. You know, we get to watch that on TV here. Rebecca Lowe is our host, and you can’t have her back.
– Some players thrive in different environments. New Zealanders Ryan Nelsen and Simon Elliott looked like better players in England than they were in MLS. Brek Shea is apparently the opposite.
– The 2002 World Cup was overrun by players from unfashionable leagues and clubs. Turkey and South Korea reached the semifinals. The chaotic Brazilian leagues supplied much of the Brazilian team that reached the final (beating England along the way).
– Uruguay (semifinals) and Paraguay (quarterfinals) fared quite well at the 2010 World Cup with only a handful of players at big clubs.
– Who do you think is going to get better service at his current club — Jermain Defoe or Jozy Altidore?
I love you, England, but when will your writers drop the provincialism?
Yes, we know Toronto isn’t the best club in MLS. At least Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane are surrounded by decent players on clubs that have some recent successes.
But here’s the funny thing: In a league built for parity (something Premier League folks can’t possibly understand), teams routinely move from the bottom to the top. Or vice versa. The margin for error is thin; the potential rewards for making just the right offseason moves are immense.
Taking Toronto to the top will be a challenge. But don’t you want your players to be challenged?
If nothing else — look, England plays Costa Rica in Group D this summer. MLS has Costa Rican players, and their best clubs face MLS teams in CONCACAF play all the time. You’re getting a free scouting report. Enjoy.
And if you’re that worried — OK, we’ll let you keep Clint Dempsey.