A few European clubs are in the states for their pre-season tour (jersey sales/martketing). Let's recap how they've been doing. Keeping in mind the following arguments:
-MLS teams are in the middle of their season, and are fit, Euros are in pre-season.
-Euro teams are fielding weak lineups, stars aren't playing.
-MLS teams try hard, and have a point to show the big boys that they can wear pull-ups now.
MLS vs Europe
Philadelphia Union 0-1 Manchester United
San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
DC United 4-0 Portsmouth
New York Red Bulls 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
New York Red Bulls 2-1 Manchester City
Kansas City Wizards 2-1 Manchester United
..and a few more are still to come, including Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Originally, I figured that the big Euro clubs saw the USA as an un-tapped market to sell their marketing and jerseys, and gain a few fans. But now it seems that some decent footie is being played, and the MLS clubs are actually turning in decent performances. Dare I say that the drop-off in talent from Europe to the MLS is not that large anymore?
What about big name players. MLS allows each team to have 3 Designated Players. Some have chosen to use this option (LA, New York, Chicago), others have decided that the team is the star (RSL).
David Beckham: washed up, marketing legend, right? Over the hill, came to the States for the paycheck, can't play in the big leagues anymore. Then...goes on loan to AC Milan, sees some first team minutes, and contributes at the highest level, interesting.
Freddy Ljungberg: was going to show up in the MLS, and tear teams apart. After 2 years, he is now "exploring other options".
2009 - 2 goals, 9 assists (made all-star team)
2010 - 0 goals, 3 assists
He gets paid 1.3 million this season to yell at the ref, and get injured. Next.
Thierry Henry: Just signed with New York Red Bull
Nery Castillo: Just signed with Chicago Fire
Rafael Marquez: Rumors say that the deal is all but done for him to join Henry in New York.
Ronaldinho to LA Galaxy? They sure hope so. Galaxy are looking for a player with a name big enough to "move the needle", and $24 million for 4 years is waiting for him.
To sum up. I think the MLS is gaining credibility. Teams are getting better, over-aged yesterdays are finding out you can't just show up and get paid. The MLS is a physical playground, and are gaining ground on other leagues in the world. One more test will be conducted on Wednesday, July 28th, when the MLS All-stars take on Manchester United. True, the All-stars have never lost this game....but then again, they've never played the Red Devils, who are coming off a loss to a 10-man Kansas City Wizards. (Who?)