MLS equivalent to English Championship, says Chicago Fire’s Shaun Maloney

Chicago Fire and Scotland international midfielder Shaun Maloney believes Major League Soccer is inferior to the leagues in the United Kingdom, but thinks MLS is equivalent to the brand of soccer played in the Championship.

The former Celtic and Wigan player joined Chicago Fire for a £1 million fee in January, after rejecting a contract offer from Leicester City.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Maloney gave his impression of MLS and shared his early experiences in American soccer.

“I think [MLS] is an inferior league to parts of the UK,” Maloney said. “I think – coming from the Championship – there’s not much difference.

“I think the vastness of the country and the traveling is obviously something you need to get used to.

“But, no, it’s a good league. Technically, very good. Physically, very good. It’s quite challenging.”

The 32-year-old started his career with Celtic in 2000, before leaving to join Aston Villa in 2008.

He returned to Parkhead the following season, and stayed until 2011, when he signed for Wigan.

During his two spells with Celtic, Maloney was part of the side which won five SPL titles, five Scottish Cups and three League Cups.

A product of Celtic’s youth system, Maloney made 138 appearances with the senior squad over six years and was named the SPFA Player of the Year in 2006.

While at Wigan, Maloney scored a goal during the 2013 FA Cup semi-final against Millwall at Wembley, and later provided the assist on Ben Watson’s dramatic 91st-minute game-winning goal which upset Manchester City in the final and earned the Latics their first-ever major trophy.

Despite winning the FA Cup, Wigan were relegated that season and Maloney spent the next two years plying his trade in the Championship.

Across all competitions, Maloney appeared in 91 matches, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists for Wigan.

The midfielder also has 36 international caps for Scotland after making his debut in 2005. He has played an integral part in Scotland’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, starting all four matches, scoring a crucial match-winning goal over Ireland in November, and helping the Scots secure an away draw against Poland in October.

Scotland are currently in third place in Group D, behind Poland and Germany.

Their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign picks up again on June 13 when Scotland travel to the Dublin Arena for a rematch against the Republic of Ireland.