Say what you will about why Oriol Rosell left FC Barcelona’s youth academy for MLS, but in a recent interview with Catalonian daily Sport, he said the 2012 midsummer move to Sporting Kansas City wasn’t to feast on easier competition.
Rosell, 21, who goes by "Uri" and was called up Tuesday by the Catalonian national team for a friendly against the Cape Verde Islands on Dec. 30, said, in response to a question as to whether his team could compete in Spain's La Liga, that the Sporting would instead be well-suited to succeed in the English Premier League.
“We're at the level, we have good players,” Rosell said. “For example, two are in the US national team that will play in the World Cup. We are a tough team. Two years ago Kansas beat Manchester United in a friendly and this year we will play [Manchester] City. In the CONCACAF Champions League, we won the group and got to the next round with terrible trips to Nicaragua and Honduras.”
Rosell, a native of Barcelona who will be joined by the likes of FC Barcelona's Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué, Espanyol's Sergio García, and Ajax's Bojan Krkic in the friendly, has certainly been an important player for SKC, with two assists in 31 starts this past season.
But the midfielder said it hasn’t been easy, referring to the physical demands of the league and how tiring it is.
He also spoke about the thrill of winning the MLS Cup earlier this month and said he has enjoyed his time in the league for its emphasis on continuing education and that he’s improving his English. He said he’d consider a long career stateside.
The interviewer continued to push the belief that MLS is a step down, asking, “Isn’t it relatively simple to play in MLS?”
“Hardly,” he responded. “I'm convinced that far from all the players in the Primera could play in MLS.”
The Catalonian Football Federation, which represents the autonomous community in Northeast Spain, is not affiliated with FIFA or UEFA. The best Catalonian players also represent Spain internationally.