Right now in Carson, California 26 players mostly from MLS are beginning preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. While Landon Donovan works directly with Klinsmann in camp, Clint Dempsey has gone on loan to Fulham to get his fitness up. Simultaneously it appears Michael Bradley is set to join Toronto FC on what is at least a six month loan ahead of the World Cup.
The announcement over on the thought marketplace that is twitter has brought out the traditional two sides. There are those who see this as another victory for the domestic league as MLS continues to grow. There are also those who while acknowledging MLS is growing think that a player plying their trade there is going to be worse off for international competitions.
My opening argument against these doubters is Landon Donovan. Don't worry he's also going to be my closing argument. MLS' co-leading all-time-scorer has been timely for the national team again and again despite plying his trade in MLS. He and Cobi Jones, another MLS lifer, happen to be the USMNT's all time leading scorers. Next on the list is Jeff Agoos, also an MLS lifer. Marcelo Balboa, MLS lifer once there was an MLS to live in.
Still for much of the 2000s the trend has been first two years of the career in MLS and if you're talented then it's time to be shipped off to Europe. DeMarcus Beasley, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra all followed this trend. These players became mainstays at the USMNT level. Along with Landon Donovan.
Now Jurgen Klinsmann has embraced the talent coming out of MLS. His center backs had one cap between them before Klinsmann used the throughout qualifying. Eddie Johnson made a roaring comeback (concurrent with a return to MLS), and Klinsmann is giving current MLS MVP Mike Magee and honest look.
By some estimates MLS is the seventh best league in the world (that list compiled by Sporting Intelligence). MLS has done enough to be added to the databases of Whoscored and Squawka. Which raises several questions.
There are clearly designated leagues USMNT fans want their players to appear in: EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A. This is with good reason, clearly those leagues are above MLS in quality. I do wonder if these fans realise there are more than three leagues in the world.
MLS may not be top five, but there are many domestic leagues out there. Would those fans argue MLS players would be better off in the Swiss Super League? It's in Europe, it must be better. How about the Armenian Premier League? Would that eight team league avoid the consternation of USMNT fans?
Not only was MLS formed as part of hosting the World Cup in 1994, it was done so with the hope of giving US players a place to get regular playing time. Sitting at the end of the bench in Mexico? Come on home, there's a team willing to let you start.
Every rumor of a US player coming home to play in MLS makes me joyful be it Johnson or Dempsey or Bocanegra or now Michael Bradley. It's the whole point of the league, that there is a home for these players to go to. One with modern stadiums and passionate fans who care about how they perform.
Have a little faith.