The perception of Major League Soccer is changing, thanks to a recent trend of young players making successful moves abroad, according to US men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter.
“We’re starting to be looked at around the world as a value league, which I think is important,” Berhalter said on Extratime. “Before we might have been ignored for our young talent, but it’s been a combination of our huge efforts in youth development and then it’s been coaches having the courage to play young players. And then it’s been young players doing well abroad. The combination of those three things has really led to a lot of attention on Major League Soccer and our younger players.”
Going back to Alphonso Davies’ move from Homegrown star with the Vancouver Whitecaps to a regular starter at Bayern Munich, Tyler Adams' jump from the New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig and recent deals struck for the Philadelphia Union duo of Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg) and Mark McKenzie (Genk), Joe Scally's move from NYCFC to Borussia Mönchengladbach as well as FC Dallas Homegrowns Reggie Cannon (Boavista) and most recently Brian Reynolds (Roma), MLS is being recognized for its youth development.
“I think it’s a great spot for the league to be in,” Berhalter said. “This is a really good position. We always want to be a league other countries look toward for young talent and MLS has done a great job of establishing itself in this last year.”
And with reported interest in other young players, including New York Red Bulls midfielder Caden Clark, the Colorado Rapids duo of Sam Vines and Cole Bassett and LA Galaxy budding star Julian Araujo, among others, there’s a feeling this is just the start of that perception being a lasting one.
“It certainly needs to be sustained. I think we need to double down now on youth development, we need to put a lot more energy, a lot more resources into it to make sure it is a first wave, that we can continue to produce these young players at the rate we are now,” Berhalter said. “When you look at the collective effort over the last 15 years and you’re starting to see results, it’s gratifying. I hope it is a first wave and not a golden generation.”