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“Most MLS players can’t play abroad” debunked

As some skeptics consider a potential Major League Soccer strike, it’s become common to say MLS is the only league many of the league’s players could make it in in, as if to say, “Strike here, and you won’t play anywhere.”

To that I say: Bull.

No, I’m not saying all MLS players could find clubs abroad. Not too many clubs look for 33-year-old backup midfielders, and MLS has a few of them.

But MLS is no different than other leagues in this regard. Could every player in first division leagues in Denmark, Chile or Ghana find a club abroad? Not likely. Yet these are all World Cup-bound nations. MLS may not be the English Premier League, but after just 15 years, it can compete with second-tier premier leagues around the world. So can its players.

Just take a look at Philadelphia Union’s roster, and you can see pretty clearly that most of the team either has played in a foreign league or could do so if MLS disappeared. And because I was looking for some almost-happy soccer topic to counter the doom-and-gloom all about, I did.

(Remember, this is purely hypothetical, basically a parlor game, because I don’t think MLS goes poof any time soon. Basically, this is one of those “Stop hating on MLS quality” columns, in addition to striking down a false argument.)

Chris Seitz

A 2008 Olympian with youth international experience. The U.S. has a track record of producing starting goalkeepers for English Premier League clubs (Tim Howard, Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, etc.), and Seitz may be the best American goalie prospect since Brad Guzan, who’s now at Aston Villa. Seitz could land at a lower-tier English club or in Scandinavia.

Califf abroad? Been there.

Danny Califf

He’s already served as captain and vice captain for Danish sides FC Midtjylland and Aalborg BK and has 23 national team caps. Enough said.

Shavar Thomas

The Jamaican national teamer could surely find a club in the Caribbean to sign with, even if in his home country’s small league.

Michael Orozco

Joined the Union from San Luis F.C. in Mexico’s top league, where he started. Moving on.

Dave Myrie

Another one who’s already played first-team soccer abroad, playing the last two seasons in Costa Rica’s top division. Just 21 years old.

Jordan Harvey

This former U.S. youth international who was a regular starter in MLS last season. Likely has the talent to find a club abroad, but not as easy to guarantee as the others above because he hasn’t done it before and doesn’t play goalkeeper.


Starred in Australia’s top league and played in Brazil’s lower divisions. Could surely latch on with a club in Australia again.

Toni Stahl

Stahl played in his home country of Finland with second division side Atlantis Akatemia before becoming a top U.S. college player. Could find a team in Finland or Scandinavia.

Stefani Miglioranzi

Played for League 1 club Swindon Town in England and left when they were relegated to League 2. Still young enough (32) to draw interest if his injury problems are behind him.

Roger Torres

The teenager just joined the Union from Colombian first division club America de Cali. Methinks he could play there again.

Andrew Jacobson

Signed with France’s Ligue 1 side, FC Lorient, in 2008, but injuries wrecked his only season there. Has something to prove on the field, but he has the talent.

Sebastien Le Toux

Another ex-Lorient player, he played 15 games for them while they were in Ligue 2. Has French citizenship and has been a late bloomer, but he might need a good season in MLS to find a professional club in France.

Moreno in Venezuela? Cake.

Alejandro Moreno

Something tells me a striker for the Venezuelan national team could find a club in Venezuela if he wanted.

Danny Mwanga

Mwanga was drawing interest from European clubs before signing with MLS. Being the top pick for a club run by a manager who’s well-respected in Europe couldn’t hurt.

Jack McInerney

Also had interest abroad before signing with MLS. Just 17 years old, could likely find a club in England.

So who’s that leave? Not much. Goalkeepers Brad Knighton and Brian Perk; midfielders Kyle Nakazawa, Shea Salinas, Amobi Okugo and J.T. Noone (if Noone makes the club); and forward Nick Zimmerman. What do they all have in common? They’re young, unproven and could turn out to be terrific players once given playing time.

Bottom line: The Union’s roster shows the argument that most MLS players couldn’t find clubs abroad is bunk. Most already have, and they’re mostly young enough to still do the job. Yes, the Union’s roster is younger than most in MLS, but the older backups can go play in the NASL-USL.

What do you think? Here’s your target. Fire away. Something to play with while hoping to have a Union game to watch March 25.


  1. I stopped watching after 3-1, and then came back to the TV to see Lambrad score the 7th Goal. Disgrace

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