CARSON, Calif. – Now that he has a few games under his belt, Carlo Cudicini has confirmed his first impressions of the LA Galaxy, and of Major League Soccer, and says he's impressed by the professionalism and athleticism of American soccer. What's missing will come with time.
The 39-year-old Italian goalkeeper is still wrapping his head around playoffs (“For me, there's still the old mentality where every game is a battle you have to win to get the three points, but, of course, [in MLS] you want to win the most points possible because you want to have a good seed at the end”) and the long flights for road games (“You have to cover so many miles here; hopefully, I will get used to it quite quickly, because I think we're going to have to travel a lot”) but he's already figured out how the game is played here.
“I think [MLS] is very physical. Very good athletes,” said Cudicini, who is preparing in Washington, following Tuesday's White House celebration, for Saturday afternoon's game at Toronto FC (2 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS LIVE). “There's a lot of running, a lot of rushing, and maybe the aspect that has to improve is a bit of more technique and skills, on that side. But I believe it's a process. It takes time. It's not easy. You need to grow up and have the right mentality to learn and make [advances]. It's a process that takes time. But overall I'm really impressed by the way the team and the league is doing.”
The pace of play in MLS isn't dissimilar from that in England's Premier League, where Cudicini spent 13 seasons with Chelsea and Tottenham, but the differences between the leagues are as mammoth as they appear, he says.
“I feel in England, the pace is very high, and the fact what is making [the EPL] the best league probably in the world is although the pace is very high, the technique is great,” said Cudicini, who grew up in AC Milan's youth system and spent a season with Lazio in Italy's Serie A. “So whatever you can run for a hundred miles an hour, you still have the right touch, you have the right passes, which is great.
“Here I'm impressed by the physical condition all the teams and all the players have, because they run a lot and they cover a lot of distance on the pitch and still miss the quality on the pass, on the touch. But as I said, it will come.”
Could the best of MLS's clubs compete in the EPL?
“That's a tough question. I have no idea, to be fair,” he replied. “Many people ask me: 'Can an Italian team play in the English Premier League?' Well, it's different, because in Spain and Italy, the rhythm is low, you have more time on the ball. Yes, they defend better, they're more, in a way, tactics-wise, they're more smart. But in England the pace is unbelievable.”