Thoughts on MLS Moves Abroad


Landon Donovan’s spectacular first goal for Everton, yesterday confirmed what those of us in the United States already knew: Donovan is a world class player who is one of the top international footballers around.

Donovan’s move to Everton, however is not permanent. In March, one of the top players anywhere on the globe returns stateside to pursue glory with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan’s contract extension with MLS, means that one of the top world footballers is contractually tied to our domestic first division for the next several years.

But unlike Donovan, several other MLS players of note who are out of contract opted to forgo resigning in the league, and are pursuing their career abroad.

Stuart Holden’s move to Bolton Wanderers could be a very good one. Bolton has spent ten of the previous twelve seasons in the top flight of English football, and Manager Owen Coyle is an attack minded manager who prefers free flowing football. However, Coyle’s bungled move (public relations wise) from Burnley to a local rival Bolton, has put a firm target on the back of his new club. The two towns are less than twenty miles apart and have shared a traditional Lancashire rivalry that is now even more intense. (Bolton is now within the borders of a new prefect, Greater Manchester, but is traditionally and spiritually part of Lancashire.)

Holden will thus be expected to play a key role from the outset. Wanderers have a set of players signed by previous manager Gary Megson, Sam Allardyce and Sammy Lee that were brought in to play a more plotting and methodical style of football. Holden, is literally the first player identified and signed by Coyle at Bolton that fits the new manager’s style.

Ricardo Clark has also made a highly ambitious move to Eintracht Frankfurt, who have been this season’s surprise Bundesliga package. The side, from arguably the most Americanized city in Continental Europe, is currently sitting seventh in the league with a real opportunity to qualify for next season’s Europa League. If Clark can break into the Eintracht team and play regularly, he should be considered an automatic starter for the United States in this summer’s World Cup.

Clark is the latest American to move to the Bundesliga. Since the early 1990s, the league has provided more opportunity for top USMNT players than any other elite European league. Clark will compete against Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo and several other Americans in the Bundesliga and domestic cup competitions.

20 thoughts on “Thoughts on MLS Moves Abroad”

  1. Everton should sign Donovan permanently.
    I hope the best for Holden but fear that he will be forgotten on Bolton’s bench. Same for Clark; he will get playing time but will fail to be a breakout player. Hope they both prove me wrong.

  2. It is great that we keep Landon.
    But MLS just isn’t there with the revenue ( fan support ) to be able to keep the Holden types, who wouln’t make millions playing here.

    Hopefully the fan support changes. Not really sure why anyone would want to support a league on the other side of the world over being at home anyway ? Maybe they like watch games at 5:30 in the AM or on illegal internet streams ?

    The crazy thing is that I think the fans that stay away think MLS needs to change….not them.

    For now all that we can do is hope the Everton gets relegated, to make SURE Landon stays at home, probably not going to happen ( if you watched last nights game, that first goal given up by Sunderland was pathetic ).

    1. The reason some of us watch other leagues is because the play is far superior. And with the advent of DVRs, we can watch the matches when we want to, as opposed to odd hours of the day.

      I want MLS to grow and succeed, but right now the top class football is played in Europe, which is why I like to see our USMNT players playing in those leagues.

  3. Donovan is world-class? You’re having a laugh.

    “World class” doesn’t mean you can hack it in the EPL. It means you’re one of the elite players in the world at your position — likely among the 25 or 30 best players in the world. Donovan does not fit either category, no way.

  4. Do you go to MLS games ?

    I just don’t see how anyone can complain about the NT pulling ’98s and ’06s without supporting soccer here.
    I just don’t see the USMNT being good until soccer is big….in the US. Spotty performances like 2002, or lucky like the Confed Cup is what we are in store for.

    Do you disagree with that ?

  5. Donovan is as good enough to start on many top flight teams, and Everton is a good team in the very best league in the world. Landon is much better than Beckham, and Beckham starts for AC Milan (#2 in Serie A). Donovan needs to make a permanent transfer.
    The problem with MLS is it does not emphasize technical skills and it’s not entertaining. Too much Bob Bradley style soccer: play long balls and hope to get lucky, while usually turning the ball over. MLS will not really succeed until it develops a style better than it has now. And that includes quickness and possession. The more MLS expands, the more it dilutes its limited talent base.
    My guess is Donovan has a transfer buyout built into his latest contract, and Everton wants to keep him long term. Check out how the UK fans rate his play in the EPL (e.g., Sky Sports, etc.) He gets top ratings from their soccer fans…

    1. Serious question how does a league change its style of play and emphasize technical skills ?
      It is all coaching then ?

      I will pass on checking out how UK fans rate his play, one, I dont care what they think and two, unlike most of the better players from the US, there is no need to watch on illegal stream video, or listen to someone in Europe, I have seen him play in person, many times for many, many years now.

  6. Kartik, I’d put a healthy Edu ahead of Clark for his versatility and temperment. I like Ricardo but he’s a complainer and he’s volatile. We don’t need that in the World Cup. If Jones doesn’t get called up, I’d bring both, though, and tell Ricardo to watch himself.

  7. Donovan did good but he is not one of the worlds top players and the epl comes in third world league after Spain and maybe Italy

  8. Donovan better than Beckham? Becks has played for three of the top clubs in the world and has produced stellar form at each. He’s won La Liga, the Premier League, the Champions League, and has captained England.

    Can we please stop annointing Donovan as one of the world’s best? First, Julie Foudy says if he played in England he woul dbe one of the top three players, now we have an internet published blogger saying he’s among the world’s best.

    There are countless Brazilians, Argetinians, Russians, Spaniards, etc etc. that do what he does game in and game out and get NO attention because their national colleagues are THAT much better!

    Donovan is a good player – nothing more, nothing less, and certainly not among the world’s best.

    1. He’s not among the world’s best club players, but he is in the elite among internationals. He could be top 10 among players who have the greatest impact on their national teams. That does not mean he is one of the top 10 players but he has one of the ten biggest impacts.

  9. At present I think Donovan is a slightly above average EPL player. However, I think it’s possbible that given time he can develop into an Arshavin-type player; someone who clearly is above the average, but not necessarily one of the “elites” of the league.

  10. it sounds like Bolton are also going to get Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire on loan for the rest of the season. If Coyle can get him and Holden into the lineup, their style of soccer will improve immensely. It remains to be seen though if either or both of them can keep Bolton from getting relegated.

  11. I think playing for 10th place in the British Premiership is a waste of time. Holden will be fighting to even stay in the league. If these guys stayed in MLS they could have fought to keep winning titles. Donovan will never play in as big a game in England as he did this past November in MLS. Everton will never be Manchester or Cheslea. It is that simple.

    More people know the Galaxy around the globe than Everton. The Dynamo are a better team than Bolton or Ewhatever Frankfurt.

  12. You lose a couple players in MLS you go from the top to the bottom. That is how strong the league is. If you look at the sum of all the teams, MLS is a top five world league. These guys are making fools out of themselves by leaving at a time when the league is taking off.

  13. @ Kartik:

    C. Ronaldo

    There’s ten players that are all better than LD and have bigger impacts on their international sides. In fact, I could put another ten together, this time overlapping countries, which I didn’t do above.

  14. @ Lester:

    “Donovan will never play in as big a game in England as he did this past November in MLS. Everton will never be Manchester or Cheslea. It is that simple. ”

    So an FA Cup Final wouldn’t be a big game, would it?

    “More people know the Galaxy around the globe than Everton. The Dynamo are a better team than Bolton or Ewhatever Frankfurt.”


  15. “More people know the Galaxy around the globe than Everton. The Dynamo are a better team than Bolton or Ewhatever Frankfurt.”

    That is pretty funny.

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