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Expanding MLS Faces Talent Squeeze
ESPN Soccernet, December 10th, 2007 4PM
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Ives Galarcep of ESPN Soccernet worries that Major League Soccer is growing at a rate that's too fast for the talent pool in the U.S. to keep up. With San Jose next year, Seattle, and then another city after that, "MLS is need of a talent infusion," he says. Meanwhile, the trend among American talent is to leave MLS once they've established themselves and search for professional success abroad.

The league is certainly aware of these trends, and that's why MLS is scaling back its foreign player restrictions. MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis has said that in the short term, the league will be tapping Central and South America to bring in new talent -- which means there should be a consistent easing of foreigner restrictions as MLS expands over the next few seasons. Over the long term, teams are setting up player development systems, which should help develop homegrown talent.

But how do you fight against top talent leaving for greener pastures?  That's partly what the Designated Player Rule is in response to. Meanwhile, "Europe is littered with young American talent struggling for playing time, when they could be in MLS playing major minutes and developing their abilities at a better rate," Galarcep says. Indeed, it's a money thing, and MLS "has been notorious for low-balling American players looking to join MLS after struggling abroad," he adds.

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