On the opening two weekends of the Major League Soccer season, there have been 20 British players either starting or sitting on the bench in MLS matches. In fact, in the first week of the season the game between New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps – which ended in a 4-1 victory to the Canadian side, had 6 British players and 1 Irish player playing during the game, and lets be honest that’s more or less the same as most Premier League teams these days.
It seems the MLS consists of three different types of British players, big name profile players who have had a top experienced career such as Jermaine Defoe (Toronto FC), Nigel Reo-Coker (Vancouver Whitecaps), Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy).
Then you have players who have played in the lower leagues of England, who are either looking for a new challenge or are out of contract and looking for a new club. Players such as Lloyd Sam (New York Red Bulls), Steven Caldwell (Toronto FC), Jordan Stewart (San Jose Earthquakes), Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls) just to name a few who fit this description.
Finally you have British players who have played most of their career in America or have gotten a scholarship and won a professional contract such as Dom Dwyer (Sporting Kansas City) – who scored the winning goal in last season’s MLS play-off final. Players such as Adam Moffat (FC Dallas), Luke Mulholland (San Jose Earthquakes) and Jonny Steele (New York Red Bulls) have spent pretty much their entire professional careers in America and are doing their respective nations of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland proud.
Many of the British and Irish players have seemed to make an impact in the MLS in someway or another. Jermaine Defoe scored a double on his debut, which saw Toronto beat Clint Dempsey’s Seattle Sounders 2-1 away. Meanwhile Robbie Keane has been influential during his time in L.A, Giles Barnes and Andrew Driver have been playing regularly since heading to Houston and Nigel Reo-Coker and Kenny Miller seem to be very much settled and have been consistently performing in Vancouver, the opening two games of this season in particular.
This provides a great advocate for British players to play abroad, and get out of their comfort zone. It’s nothing other than a positive in my eyes, to see another style and perspective of football in another country , and if it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out – then at least they can say they did it, and not have to look back on their career and say to themselves “I wished I’d have played abroad” like many British footballers do.