This debate over MLS is stupid. And is perfectly summed up in this article, click here. Leander Schaerlaeckens basically says MLS shouldn't go out and get aging superstars, but instead should develop stars and sign young players from the western hemisphere. I agree with that, but here's my problem. Why is it a choice? Why can't we have our cake and eat it too?
I look at the team that really started this whole debate, the LA Galaxy. They had 3 big name DP's who are on the wrong side of 30, Donovan, Beckham, and Keane and will probably have 2-3 next year. However, it was shown time and time again last year, they were more than 3 players.
They made a ton of low key moves that turned out to be brilliant. They got a completely unknown young Brazilian named Juninho, and developed him into the best box-to-box midfielder in MLS. They drafted Omar Gonzalez who has become the best defender in MLS. They developed guys like Sean Franklin and AJ DeLaGarza who became quality MLS players. They signed Marcelo Sarvas from a Costa Rican team. And they have 2 young players from their academy who look like they could be superstars, Jack McBean and Jose Villarreal.
That's not even including the rookies this year. Tommy Meyer was rock solid during the MLS play-offs including silencing the leagues top goal scorer in the 1st round. If that's not a fluke, that could mean LA might have 3 good to great CB that they drafted and developed themselves. Then you have Bryan Gaul, a converted striker, who now plays LB and appears to be the heir to Dunivant.
Basically what I'm trying to say is, it's not an either/or debate. You can, and some teams are, doing both. And my conclusion is that's what's best for MLS. Which for some reason the author of the article thinks is bad, because you know top tier leagues like the EPL, Bundesliga, and La Liga NEVER sign big name players from other leagues or countries, they are all home grown.........
This idea that MLS doesn't need the big names anymore is just laughable too. MLS will always need big names, EVERY league needs big names, it creates interest and if lets say, young athletes aren't interested in a league/sport, why would they want to play it. This is more true for MLS than any other soccer league in the world. The EPL doesn't have to compete with the NFL, NBA, or MLB for interest. THAT'S why MLS needs the big name (sometimes aging) stars, it brings attention to a league starved for it.
And when I say starved for it, I don't mean attention from it's cult following, I mean from the mythical "casual fan". If every soccer fan in the US were a MLS fan, then it would be one of the biggest leagues in the world, but that's not the case. The more well known soccer stars playing in the league, the more soccer fans will watch MLS. Where those stars come from is irrelevant, they just need to be here. And that's what it boils down to, MLS isn't established enough to pick and choose how to go about gathering talent, it's easy to say "find young stars", it's a whole different animal to actually go out and do it. And really, what kind of idiot thinks Frank Lampard or Kaka playing in MLS is a bad thing?