The opportunity to play in Europe has been every young footballer’s dream. Even for players that resided in the United States and Canada, the ultimate goal was to reach the premier location for the sport. England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Portugal play host to (some of) the world’s best footballers and best clubs. Football has long seen some of the world’s best leave their home markets to reach the sport’s top.
It wasn’t exactly rare to see Europeans make the trip overseas to Major League Soccer, however, it was rare to see superstars transfer. That has changed and we’re starting to see more transfers that are powerful. Former transfers came at the tail end of their career for one last shot at longevity, but either way, MLS has become popular among stars looking at options in their career. MLS has seen increased popularity for transfers among South American talent as well, meaning the landscape has changed for professional soccer in the United States and Canada. Soccer betting sites are picking up on the MLS’ popularity, as it has quickly become one of the most wagered sports in Canada, due to the increased fame of the league.
The 2022 MLS transfer window solidified the fact that MLS is a legitimate place to play. Players like Beckham, Kaka, Ibrahimovic, Pirlo, Henry and Rooney are some top stars that made the jump and their consideration of Major League Soccer has impacted the market today. These signings greatly impact sports betting sites in Canada. With each transfer, we see how betting odds are impacted for the season. MLS Cup odds changing with every signing is a direct reflection of how these stars can impact a season.
LA Galaxy have had no issue attracting stars. Beckham and Ibrahimovic joined the Galaxy and made an immediate impact. While their time with the club is finished, those two helped the Galaxy become an easy spot for overseas stars looking to transfer. Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich) transferred to the club during the MLS 2022 summer window. The Brazillian winger has made his mark in popular leagues like Serie A, Bundesliga and the Ukrainian Premier League, so this is another stop in his international journey.
The Galaxy aren’t the only club in Los Angeles that can attract starts. Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) began play in 2018 and has been a landing spot for stars around the globe. Not to be outdone by their rival, LA Galaxy, LAFC brought in firepower of their own. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) and Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) joined the club, looking to help bolster their offense and defense. LAFC already has one of the best goal differentials in the league and the addition of Bale and Chiellini will do wonders for the club.
Even Canadian club Toronto F.C. has had their fair share of bringing in talent from overseas. Their biggest signing came during the 2022 summer window, as TFC locked in Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli). Insigne has been a staple for the Italian national team and he has been a threat in domestic play as well. Toronto F.C. also brought in another Italian star. Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus) has done damage with Italy and should help Toronto on the scoring front.
Once seen as a league where talent could grab a final cheque and retire, we’re seeing stars from around the globe decide to enter the United States and Canada to compete. The MLS has become home to stars looking to prove their worth or find success in another location. This isn’t the MLS of old where an overseas star could come in and dominate. Now, the transfer market is a recruiting tool that could be the difference maker in competing for the MLS Cup.
Atlanta United made an interesting decision in bringing in 21-year-old Thiago Almada. This is easily one of the best investments made as Atlanta could easily sell Almada down the road (if it pans out). Almada’s presence should help a United team that is struggling with possession. Almada is projected to sign back overseas in the future, but his value and poise with Atlanta at this current time is worth the initial investment.
Alan Velasco (FC Dallas), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire) and Cucho Hernandez (Columbus Crew) have all inked deals to play in the MLS also. With the growing popularity of MLS in the United States and Canada, seeing high-profile signings like the ones above will become the norm.
The MLS has become a legitimate destination for footballers. It’s a perfect time for the league as it is becoming more popular in the United States and Canada. And with international stars and fans’ eyes on the product, the MLS has become a premier choice for players looking to positively impact their careers and build a foundation in a growing environment.