Major League Soccer is rapidly becoming a selling league. This transition has been underway for a while, arguably starting in full with Atlanta’s monster sale of Miguel Almiron to Newcastle, and this winter the floodgates are starting to open.
For today’s fan thought, let’s look at what being a selling league means and what it means for Orlando City.
This shift to recruitment has led to more investment in young players, both domestic homegrown talent and prospects from abroad, with the goal of selling them on to big clubs in Europe. Orlando City has not had much success in this department, both in the recruitment (hello Josue Colman) and selling (hello Cyle Larin) of players, but with the sale of Daryl Dike and succesful additions of young players like Andres Perea under the current regime, Orlando might finally be up to the task of being a part of the selling league.
There are clear benefits to this approach. This is where MLS is in the grand scheme of the soccer universe. The talent level of the league is somewhere around the English Championship and Belgium, leagues that routinely sell their best players to bigger European clubs, so it makes sense that MLS should follow suit.
The biggest benefit to this is the players who the league can attract. We’ve seen talents like Diego Rossi and (less successfully so far) Brenner come in with the idea of selling them on to Europe. Players of that talent profile don’t come here if they can’t be sold on. Similarly, that pipeline to Europe has invigorated the youth development in this country, with more top prospects signing homegrown contracts with MLS clubs with the idea of an eventual transfer, like James Sands. Getting these players in the league, even if it’s just for two to four years, is a great thing.
Outside of bringing in more talent to the league, player sales have also been a good source of revenue for clubs. In MLS, player sales aren’t pocketed by the owners, instead that money all has to be reinvested into the club. With more sales, especially big ones, that means more money for academies, incoming transfers and facilities. The league’s infrastructure development over the last ten years has been astounding and this will only further that.
For all the benefits of being a selling league, there are some unique challenges that the league has to grapple with. Major League Soccer’s competition isn’t the Championship or the Belgian league; it’s the NHL, the MLB and the other American sports. For the average American sports fan, it can be frustrating to see the top players leave. It turns away a lot of potential customers when stars can be sold so frequently. Every other league in this country is the preeminent force in their sport; MLS very much isn’t. Functioning like a seller in the global market makes sense from a soccer standpoint, but it makes things much more difficult on the home front.
What are your thoughts? How valuable is it to be a selling league and how can Orlando continue to grow as a selling club? Leave your thoughts below