Published On: Thu, Jan 8th, 2015

Future Seems Bleak for Don Garber’s MLS after Frank Lampard Debacle

Don Garber getty

Some people suggest that by 2022, the biggest and most-elite football players will be weighing moves to North America at the peak of their careers. But given the latest mess involving Frank Lampard, it seems the league continues to be an afterthought for many, and it appears Major League Soccer (MLS) is doing little to eradicate that stereotype, Yahoo Sports said.

Essentially, the league was willing collaborators in a charade that fooled, well, everyone. Instead of being signed by MLS last summer, Lampard instead agreed to a contract with City Football Group – an organization overseeing a number of soccer franchises around the world. As the veteran midfielder was paraded in front of photographers against the perfect backdrop of the New York skyline in July, the league’s top brass knew they were peddling a lie, the report said.

Shortly after the announcement, Lampard was at Yankee Stadium to watch Manchester City take on Liverpool. And shortly after that, the reigning Premier League champions revealed Lampard would be joining them on loan for six months. But, that was theatre. A neat performance. Ultimately, CFG knew that Lampard would remain in England for as long as they wanted. They held all the cards and MLS, as always, remained a footnote, Yahoo Sports said.

.According to MLS commissioner Don Garber, what instigated the chaos and confusion was Lampard’s eye-catching performances for City once he joined. No one, Garber insinuated, was expecting that. But bizarrely, when City did reveal that Lampard would be staying with them until the end of this season, Garber recently admitted that it wasn’t a shock at all, the report said.
“I sensed it was coming, and it didn’t surprise me when they (City) ultimately made their decision, ” he told Sports Illustrated.

What MLS has done is apportion all of the blame for the Lampard fiasco squarely at the door of Manchester City who Garber accused of “an error of judgment”. For a league that so badly desires progression and development, it’s been humiliating, Yahoo Sports said.

What’s the genuine attraction of MLS to big-name players? Money, attention, a nice postscript. That’s the perception. When David Beckham arrived, the league did grow. It became international. During his stint in LA, MLS became better and bigger. But now it’s at a crossroads, the report said.

With growth comes increased expectation. But there’s also increased responsibility. When Beckham arrived in the league, he was 32 and stayed for five years. Thierry Henry was 32 when he joined the New York Red Bulls and stayed for four years. Recently, MLS have engineered short-term deals to bring Lampard (who’ll be almost 37 by the time he pulls on a NYC FC shirt) and Steven Gerrard (who’ll be 35 next May) to North America.

In the case of Lampard, the league has sacrificed much. It’s incurred the wrath of passionate supporters – the foundation on which MLS has been built – and for what? So another ex-Premier League player can trot out a couple of seasons for a newly-launched franchise? It all sounds rather desperate, but more importantly, it sounds like MLS has lost its sense of direction, the report said.

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