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MLS Facing a Talent Drain?
ESPN Soccernet, February 19th, 2008 4PM

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Major League Soccer would tell you that the traffic in and out of the league is flowing healthily in both directions, with as many or more players coming in than are going out. "That might be true in quantity," says ESPN's Andrew Hush, "but the quality certainly leaves something to be desired." The MLS plan of replacing departing young stars with affordable talent from South and Central America is a decent one, but importing European "has-beens and never-weres" is a worrying trend, says Hush.

"Simply put, MLS currently serves as a nursery for the next generation and a retirement home for the previous." And it's not just the league's top players who are leaving -- the likes of Pat Noonan and Andy Dorman left MLS over the summer for bigger paydays at small European clubs. Hush says the player exodus is brought on by a combination of greater worldwide visibility for the league (thanks to our friend David Beckham) and poor pay. Ultimately, money talks, and MLS simply doesn't pay comparatively well.

MLS needs to increase its salary cap, which currently stands at $2.3 million per team, in order to adequately compensate its better players, Hush says. It could also stand to increase contract lengths, as many players are asked to operate on a year-to-year basis, encouraging them to look for steadier work elsewhere.

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