There is much talk nowadays about emerging soccer, that is, those small and medium football leagues that are constantly rising. The objective of these leagues and the clubs that comprise it is to become one of the TOP leagues of their respective continents. One notes the differences when he sees a game in the Spanish league and another in France's Ligue 1, for example. What these minor leagues are looking for is to narrow the distances and stop them from being considered "minor". However, this is not always easy, since the differences in the level of play are clear, whether by the players and what each of the teams invests.
In the American continent we are clear that the leagues of Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are the ones that exhibit the best football. In them you can see the best level, the best teams and players. But in America there is also emerging soccer and I am referring to the MLS of the United States. This young competition has been one of the leagues with more growth in recent decades, attracting great players from other leagues. Perhaps MLS was known as the league where the big stars were going to retire, but the reality is that it has attracted players who still have a lot of football to give, as well as young promising South American football.
But can we compare MLS with European leagues or major American competitions? What is the true level of soccer in the United States?
I have always followed the MLS and from the organizational point of view and as a spectator, it is spectacular. Every time that the Americans consider doing something, they do it in big and very well, as it is the case of the MLS. But the reality is that as a football show it still leaves a lot to be desired.
And many of the players who have played in other high level leagues have shown it. I will concretely make 3: Josef Martínez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Darwin Quintero; who have undressed the true level of the MLS.
For example, Josef Martinez arrived in the MLS in 2017 and has already completed his second season with Atlanta United. And since the Venezuelan landed in the United States has not stopped making goals, scoring 19 in 20 games in 2017 and now broke the record for most goals in a season, with 31 in 30 games. With this I do not want to detract from the record that my compatriot obtained, it is a great feat. But it is not the same to score as many goals in the United States as in Europe.
It's not just the amount of goals he scores, which is scandalous; but of the superiority it shows over rival defenses. One sees the clear difference in level between Josef, a guy with experience in Europe and the American defenses he faces, who have no idea how to stop him. And if we consider that Josef is a guy who failed in his last years in Europe, he makes us doubt about the quality of the teams he faces.
Another that makes MLS look like a children's game is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish giant arrived in March of this year to LA Galaxy and scored 22 goals in 26 games. I have had the opportunity to see several of his games with the Galaxy and the superiority over his rivals is amazing. Zlatan does what he wants when he enters the field and shows the amateur level of many of the defenders of MLS. And I know it's Ibrahimovic we're talking about, but let's remember that he came from a knee injury that had him 6 months apart and that could have been the end of his career. If Ibra continued in Europe we would see clearly that is far from being the same player a few years ago, but the level of the MLS makes it look as if it were in its best years. The defenders panic and have no idea what to do when the Swede advances to the goal, those things are not of a serious league.
And finally I want to talk about the Colombian Carlos Darwin Quintero who has been among the most recent foreigners to join the league. Quintero arrived at Minessotta United from America of Mexico. I always followed his performance in the Mexican league with Santos and América, he seemed a very good striker at national level. However, the years did not pass him in vain and when he reached his 30 years his performance under a lot, simply was not relevant in his team. That's why I was surprised that just debut in the MLS began to make disasters. It makes a lot of noise that a mid-level forward in the descending curve of his career can show such superiority, making rival defenses look like children who throw themselves at his feet before the impossibility of stopping him. But again, this is the level of MLS that makes Carlos Darwin Quintero a star in the league with 11 goals and 13 assists in 28 games.
The reality is that although the growth of the MLS is notorious, it still lacks a lot to become a league of first level in the American continent, not even compared with the European ones. Many times we see an air of amateurism in its players, it shows in how they play. Most teams defend worse than Mourinho's Manchester United. In MLS there are many Central American players who simply do not have level and still have to work hard in the development of local talent.
Perhaps one of the problems is that there are too many teams in MLS. Really having 22 teams is unnecessary when half are an absolute disaster. If they reduced the teams, the quality players could share better and provide a greater soccer spectacle. But that is unfeasible, it simply does not favor the immense economic market that football means in the United States, with its stadiums full no matter who plays. The MLS is on the right track, they have the organization, impeccable stadiums, a consolidated fanaticada; only lack that jump of quality that I am sure that at any time will be given and will turn the MLS into one of the best leagues in America.