In order for football (aka soccer) to grow in the United States, it is blatantly obvious that the country’s most-prized players should be playing professionally in Europe. The US national team will only get better when its players are competing with the best the world has to offer.
This is a pretty basic rationale, right?
But the two best US players over the past decade have come crawling back to the American-grown Major League Soccer (MLS) in recent years.
Clint Dempsey was one of the leading scorers for Tottenham Hotspur in 2012/13 before he left Europe and joined the Seattle Sounders. Goalkeeper Tim Howard has protected the Everton net for the past nine years but this week, he announced that he will play for the Colorado Rapids this summer.
Dempsey and Howard were both heroes for the US during the 2014 World Cup and while they are no spring chickens, why are they coming back home?
I guess it has something to do with the American Dream, which is roughly defined as a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success. Stay with me here. I know that sounds very vague but the main word to take away from that is "prosperity".
In other words, both of those dudes got paid.
When Dempsey, 33, signed his contract with Seattle, he instantly became the highest-paid player in the league. His MLS deal of US$6.695 million (Dh24.6m) guaranteed compensation for the 2014 season was more than the total payrolls of 15 out of 19 MLS teams.
At the time, Dempsey’s MLS paycheques were larger than the paycheques of MLS international imports Tim Cahill (Australia), Jermaine Defoe (England), Marco Di Vaio (Italy), Thierry Henry (France) and Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland).
The buck doesn’t stop here.
Howard, who will finish up this current Premier League campaign on Merseyside before joining Colorado in May, is set to become not only the highest earning goalkeeper in the MLS, but will reportedly be paid more than every other keeper in the league – combined.
Howard, 37, will be paid $2.8m a season and will be a designated player with Colorado, meaning he is paid outside the franchise’s capped wage bills.
Designated players tend to be attackers or midfielders, such as Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, or Kaka – hence the generous standard of defending throughout the league.
So the debate about American players rages on: Ply your craft abroad and bring your skills home with you or bring your skills home with you and get rich?
Congratulations to Dempsey and Howard on their recent salary promotions and best wishes for a safe homecoming.
Now please, teach other American players the best way to get ahead in the football world. Cha-ching!
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