NYC FC’s roster reads like a world-beating fantasy squad: David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard.
Those are big names – players I’ve been scoring with in FIFA since I picked up the sticks in ’11.
Back then, if you told me the three of them would all be playing in the MLS – let alone on the same team – I would have told you to stop smoking spice.
Here we are, five years later, and NYC FC has as much star power as the entire league had just a few seasons ago.
It’s great that the Three Wise Men are entertaining soccer fans in the Big Apple.
The only way to continue to raise the talent level in the MLS is to keep signing legit international stars – and not just wise old sages in their twilight years.
David Beckham has given us proof of concept for middle-aged stars to come to America and hop on the gravy train.
But we need young bucks with fire in their blood.
We need samba boys shimmy shakin’ with the razzle dazzle.
The MLS will never become a great league without a pipeline of young stars.
It will take a generation before America’s youth academies consistently churn out top players like Europe’s talent factories.
In the interim, the MLS would do well to establish itself as a destination for players still on the rise; a big money paradise where young Hispanic players can hone their craft and make enough money to last a couple lifetimes.
South American youngsters need not cross an ocean to land in a league that makes sense.
The Messis and Neymars of the world will probably always find themselves on the hallowed grounds of the Nou Camp.
But players of their ilk once in a generation.
For every little Lionel running around, there are dozens of players with the potential to be international stars
Take Dallas’ Fabián Castillo – fast, skilled, don’t-blink-now kinda guy. The young Colombian is exactly the kind of player the MLS needs.
It took him a few years to really find his stride in the MLS, but now he’s one of the league’s most dynamic players.
Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins couldn’t tell him Nathan in last year’s Seattle-Dallas playoff meeting.
He came to Dallas in 2011 a talented, but unproven prospect from Deportivo Cali.
In the time since, he’s become an MLS All-Star and played himself into a new 5-year contact.
While terms of the deal haven’t been released per league rules, Castillo could walk into the dealership tomorrow and cop himself something nice, cash. Shit, he could buy three, four whips just so he has something different for every day of the week.
His play in Dallas has not gone unnoticed back in Colombia, either. He made his debut for the national team last year, proving that playing well in the MLS can translate to cracking a top international side.
Through hard work, he’s earned it all – money, fame, and success.
Young players chasing million dollar dreams should look at Castillo as a shining example of everything right with the MLS.