Problems in Peru create opportunities for players to flock to MLS

raul-fernandez

When you travel around a continent such as South America, you see boys playing soccer in the streets just like they did when their fathers were kids. All they really need is a ball. But for professionals these days, all they really need is a paycheck, which has been hard to come by in Peru.

In South America, many clubs have a large dependency on the Copa Libertadores tournament, which is a cash cow for South American teams. But in recent years, the bigger clubs in Peru (Sporting Cristal, Universitario, and Alianza Lima) have failed to do anything notable.

In Peru, the Peruvian Primera Division has always been overshadowed by the Brazilian and Argentine top flight leagues, and with Peru’s economy in the dumps, it hurts the fans who aren’t able to (or don’t want to) buy tickets.

The Lima clubs are the powers but in recent years there has been an issue with not only players not being paid on time, but being paid 3-5 or even 9 months later.

In South America, most clubs realize that to survive they need to sell their best players — in order to help pay the wages of players and club staff.

It’s no surprise then that many South Americans have been moving to the United States to play in MLS. Many Colombians see the US as a good payday in a ideal location that is a gateway to Europe. Brazilian clubs, with their newfound money, have been loaning out their players as there is no room to develop in those squads.

Raul Fernandez, who is a goalkeeper with FC Dallas, is a Peruvian who made the move to MLS.

“Playing every week brings continuity and I have found it here in MLS with Dallas,” said Fernandez. “This was something that I didn’t have at my last club. To be part of the national set up again is because of this.

“I’ve talked with many friends who ask me about the league. I tell them it is really good. The facilities are great. And that the economical situation is very good as well. Maybe more will move but right now I am enjoying my time here.”

With things as they are, it would seem that as MLS grows, to expand to 24 by 2020 or sooner, many more players in Central and South America will be looking to the US and Canada for a place to play.

The inescapable truth is that the boys playing in the barrios across Peru and South America will always be looking to play the game they love and bring happiness to themselves, their families and others. MLS could hold the key to their future.

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