Forget Thierry Henry: MLS returns with star quality intact

The first round of the 2015 MLS season was played at the weekend, with football in America still possessing its fair share of star quality.

Despite the recent departures of distinguished figures such as Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Jermain Defoe, the calibre of some of those taking their place cannot be questioned.

Perhaps the most interesting fixture of the inaugural round came as two new teams, Orlando City and New York City, played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.

Former Barcelona and Spain star David Villa made his debut for the latter, but the spotlight was stolen by 2007 Ballon d’Or winner Kaka.

The ex-AC Milan and Real Madrid playmaker made quite the introduction, netting an injury-time equaliser for Orlando in front of more than 60,000 fans.

Although ageing, there is no doubting that both Villa and Kaká’s technique and standing in the game has the ability to draw a crowd.

The Spaniard played a role in Atlético Madrid’s exceptional campaign last season, with Diego Simone’s men making it to the Champions League final and winning La Liga.

KakáThe Brazilian is best remembered for scintillating form in Italy, but his career has stagnated since leaving the Stadio San Siro.

On his day a star that was virtually unplayable, Kaká’s addition will be one that goes down in the MLS history books as a major coup for the North American league.

Meanwhile, in Seattle a star strike partnership helped the Sounders to a 3-0 victory over the New England Revolution.

Ex-Tottenham and Fulham attacker Clint Dempsey grabbed a brace, with partner-in-crime Obafemi Martins also getting in on the act in a comfortable win.

Given Dempsey’s goal return in his first season back in the MLS last year, there is a valid argument to suggest that the North London club parted company with the 32-year-old too soon.

Nigerian attacker Martins continues to possess the star quality and together the pair will light up the North American top flight this term.

Another impressive attacking partnership got off to a flying start north of the border, with Toronto FC looking like a dangerous proposition.

Jozy Altidore, so often chastised for his failure to prove himself in two stints in England, started his tenure with the Canadian club by netting a brace in his side’s 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The powerful former Sunderland striker will be supported by arguably the MLS’ most exciting summer signing, Sebastian Giovinco.

At 28 the diminutive forward still has a lot of football left in him and has come straight from Italian champions Juventus.

Still in his prime and undoubtedly gifted, Giovinco will be given the regular first-team football that was never forthcoming in Turin and can reinvent himself in Canada and the MLS in the process.

LA Galaxy started their campaign with 2-0 win as Robbie Keane got off the mark, while a number of other ex-Premier League stars popped up across the board.

The likes of Nigel Reo-Coker, Liam Ridgewell and Shaun Maloney have all shown that they are more than good enough for the top flight in England.

Their presence in the MLS can only improve the quality of the collective, in what promises to be an exciting season for American and Canadian football fans.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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