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MLS Hits and Misses

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Thursday 22nd March 2018

MLS Hits and Misses

MLS Hits and Misses

With the recent news that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to sign for MLS side LA Galaxy in another blockbuster deal for the American game, there is no better time to look at some of the MLS hits and misses: the success stories and the big names who went there, and those who failed to live up to some lofty expectations.

David Villa is regarded as one of, if not the best MLS players of all time. The Spaniard has scored 64 goals in 96 MLS appearances since making his New York City FC debut in 2015, and won the MLS VIP award in 2016. After a successful career with the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Valencia, it seems that the 36-year old will wind down his career continuing to be as lethal as he was in his prime.

There are many other high-profile forwards who went to the MLS and succeeded: Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had plenty of success with New York Red Bulls, whilst Robbie Keane was as clinical as ever in his six season stint with LA Galaxy. Sebastien Giovinco left Juventus for Toronto FC and has not looked back, netting 55 goals in 88 league appearances, and David Beckham started the trend of big names moving to the MLS all those years ago when he joined LA Galaxy.

Some less prominent names have also gone to the US and found success, somewhat unexpectedly in some cases. Sunderland fans will remember Jozy Altidore for the wrong reasons after some lacklustre displays on the pitch, but the American has consistently impressed in his native league with Toronto FC and most recently won the MLS Cup.

One of the more surprising success story comes in the form of Bradley Wright-Phillips - 87 goals in 141 MLS appearances is an unprecedented return for somebody who five years ago looked like he may be destined for a somewhat less glamorous career in the lower leagues of English football. 

Dom Dwyer is a name that will not be familiar to many, but the former Norwich City youth player has written a fairytale story in the MLS. Having move from non-league football in England to get a sports scholarship in the USA, Dwyer was eventually drafted by Sporting Kansas City and since 2012 he has been plying his trade in the States. Having resided across the pond since 2009, Dwyer earned American citizenship and has now established himself as a part of the USA national team.

For every success story, there is a tale about those who did not quite hit the heights they may have elsewhere.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, the more well-known half-brother of the aforementioned Bradley, could not replicate his sibling's success with a move to New York Red Bulls. The former Manchester City and Chelsea winger has since dropped down a level to join Didier Drogba at Phoenix Rising FC in the USL. 

Ashley Cole was recently installed as LA Galaxy captain, although his time with the west coast club has not been as glorious as the days where he was up and down the left flank for Chelsea and England were. Despite being only two games into the current MLS season, the left back has already been sent off and seems a far cry from the marauding full back he once was. Steven Gerrard is another huge name who struggled out in America - by the time he moved from Liverpool to LA Galaxy, the 2005 Champions League winner was far from the player he once was and his time in the league was short lived with the Liverpudlian retiring after two seasons in the MLS.

Finally, there is Andrea Pirlo. The Italian playmaker still had the quality to pick out passes with laser-like precision, but when he moved to New York City FC he had slowed down considerably and was very much the prototypical 'luxury player'. 

So how will Zlatan Ibrahimovic fare when he makes the move to the MLS?

Get involved in the discussion and have your say over on Twitter @TeamFA - will Ibrahimovic succeed? Or will his time in the MLS underwhelm after such a great career? 

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