By, Braxton Crisp
The MLS season ended early last month with the LA Galaxy winning the Cup in Landon Donovan’s final game. Since then, excitement has been building for the upcoming season, particularly with the welcoming of expansion franchises Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
Speaking of New York City FC, I would like to bluntly say that its majority owner, City Football Group, and parent club Manchester City, are screwing the Empire State’s newest professional soccer team because the corresponding British club has decided to hold onto Frank Lampard beyond the start of the MLS season.
The deal was that when Lampard signed with New York City FC during last summer’s transfer window, he would officially be on loan from New York to Manchester so he can still compete and stay fit until the start of the 2015 MLS season. But Lampard has chipped in 5 goals and an assist in City’s quest to track down Premier League leader Chelsea. That performance, plus his solid play in the midfield, City Football Group has elected to keep Lampard in Manchester until the end of the Premier League season.
In my opinion, that’s bush league on the part of City Football Group. Lampard was the signing that got potential fans excited and on board to buy tickets and merchandise in support of the American club’s inaugural season at Yankee Stadium. It’s the British big brother taking away American little brother’s favorite toy.
On to other news regarding the move of a British star to the United States, where Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard has signed to join the LA Galaxy on an 18-month deal following the conclusion of the Premier League season. But this deal, looking in retrospect to some other signings of British stars coming to the United States (Lampard, David Beckham, etc.) has started a theory that the MLS is still trying to make a name for itself by bringing in older, high-priced talent from abroad and those players essentially using the MLS as a place for those players to go into semi-retirement.
This theory goes on to say that the MLS should be focusing more on bringing up young, American talent, and I tend to agree with that. Gerrard is a perfect example of young talent being signed and developing with Liverpool into a fantastic professional career. The MLS should be doing the same and along these lines, I think Seattle made a mistake selling DeAndre Yedlin to Tottenham, but that’s another post for another day.
Finally, Mike Petke has been fired by the New York Red Bulls. Yes, you read that right. And it’s an absolute travesty. The Red Bulls made it to the MLS Playoffs, where they defeated Sporting KC in the opening playoff, then knocked off Eastern Conference No. 1 seed DC United in the conference semifinals, before falling in the Eastern Conference Finals to New England. So that warrants a firing?
This is a lot like the Los Angeles Clippers firing Vinny Del Negro after the 2012-13 season, in which the Clippers finished with its best record in franchise history.
These three events happening in quick succession certainly have not helped the image of the MLS, besides the fact that Robbie Keane is once again going to have a top-level midfielder on the pitch with him next season. As for the Red Bulls, shame on you for firing a successful coach, and shame on City Football Group for robbing the fans of MLS and New York City FC of 3 months of Frank Lampard.