With many English Premier League teams touring the USA and Canada this summer, it is perhaps fitting to look at the links between Major League Soccer and the EPL.
Some are learned facts, some are obscure stories and some are spurious rumours. The one thing in common is the love of the beautiful game and the historic partnership between North America and Great Britain.
Shoulder to shoulder, we all share the same passion; that great sport we all call football, no…soccer, sorry…football, no….soccer. Oh who cares? We love them both!
The list below will show the links that the 2013/14 Premier League teams have with North American soccer, and give an insight into the development of MLS.
Arsenal – American Stan Kroenke is the majority shareholder of Arsenal and also the owner of Colorado Rapids. The two teams formed an official link with each other in 2009.
Aston Villa – Randy Lerner, current owner who has recently placed the club up for sale. American Brad Guzan is the current goalkeeper. Allegedly a US consortium are planning to become the new owners.
Cardiff City – The Welsh club share the honour of the most watched Premier League game in US this season with their rivals Swansea in the Welsh derby.
Chelsea – Have a megastore in North Carolina but have cancelled their proposed US tour this summer to focus on squad development. Though of course Frank Lampard has been linked with MLS for the past few years and is currently being linked again.
Crystal Palace – was affiliated with Crystal Palace USA team in 2006, by the then Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan, in the old USL second division. In 2010 the US Palace team severed the link, stating they were to take a year out and re-structure the team. They have unfortunately never surfaced again, unlike Simon Jordan who pops up on British TV now and again showing off his penchant for expensive wristwatches. The Eagles are set to play three games in the US this summer.
Everton – Everton America is a direct link with Everton FC. They partner local sports organisations and help youth development in the US. A big pat on the back is deserved for this. Oh yeah, they also have the Big Man, Tim Howard between the sticks and have had Landon Donovan and Brian McBride play for them in recent years.
Fulham – Have American based billionaire Shahid Khan as an owner, American Airlines as their official airline and had Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride as players.
Hull City – Twinned with Harlem as part of the “Keep calm and pick a side” campaign to promote the EPL. We are presuming no pictures of Hull were shown as it isn’t exactly the most attractive place in the UK to visit! They also visited NASA in 1984 and then Chairman, Don Robinson, said they would be the first team to play on the moon.
Liverpool – Home of The Beatles and the nearly Champions of the EPL in 2014. Also have a lakeside village in Onondaga County NY apparently! They have the honour of having some of the coolest men in the US as fans, namely, Dr Dre, Samuel. L. Jackson, LeBron James and Brad Pitt. Not bad eh? Oh, and let’s not forget the American owner John W Henry II.
Manchester City – The newly crowned EPL champions are partnering with the New York Yankees to form a New York franchise; New York City Football Club, with Man City being majority owner. An incredibly wealthy team, and at this rate, they will eventually own every team in the EPL and MLS!
Manchester United – They have a large fan base in the US and even though the outgoing champions had a poor season, they are still a giant in the game. Owned by Americans, Malcolm Glazer and his family. A US investment company, Baron International, has recently bought $150 million worth of shares as an investment. This only equates to 2.5% of the club however, and was not enough to influence the club not to employ David Moyes as the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor!
Newcastle United – Andrew Parkinson, a striker, played for them from 1977-1979, who has got to be one of the first players from the USA to play here which is impressive. (Even though he wasn’t the first in the EPL, John Harkes has that honour). It is also the only decent link we could find so the Toon Army need make some connections across the pond, rather than just France.
Norwich City – Zak Whitbread, an American/English player who played for two and a half seasons for Norwich from 2010. We have nothing more to say about that.
Southampton – Have a Canadian owner in Ralph Krueger, and have been partial to an American keeper with the same initials, Kasey Keller and Cody Cropper.
Stoke City – Current Manager Mark Hughes is at present not having a great US experience due to the failure of a second appeal for a work permit, with young American striker Juan Agudelo. He is now apparently contemplating only signing European players following this protracted appeal. This would be a crying shame as the EPL/MLS bond has been strengthening on a yearly basis. On the plus side they do currently have American International, Geoff Cameron formerly of Houston Dynamo, Brek Shea, the ex FC Dallas man and Maurice Edu on their books. (Maurice Edu is currently on loan at Philadelphia Union).
Sunderland – American owner Ellis Short is currently at the helm and Jozy Altidore is currently on the books, but Jozy unfortunately hasn’t had the best of times in the EPL with one goal in over 30 league appearances this season.
Swansea City – Featured in the most watched EPL game against Cardiff and the second-most watched game when they were away to Man Utd. We believe two of the Swansea players also drive Escalades!
Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs have been affiliated with San Jose Earthquakes since 2008, they also have Brad Friedel, one of the best free transfers in the league under their belt. Clint Dempsey also played for them before his recent return to MLS with Seattle Sounders. Whilst they recently sold Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC in a big move for MLS, and Spurs are set to tour the United States this summer.
West Bromwich Albion – Apparently The Baggies were sniffing around US player Tim Ream, currently playing for Derby County, but everyone and their aunt are denying that.
West Ham United – The Hammers run a respected International Academy within the USA and Canada. They had Jonathan Spector as a player from 2006-2010. Clive Charles also played for them in 1972/1973.
And we couldn’t write a piece like this without mentioning David Beckham. A huge GB and US name in our beloved sport, he is currently trying to start his own franchise in Miami and we are quietly hoping it gets called Miami Vice. Perhaps Jan Hammer can do the music as the team emerge from the tunnel?
May the union between our countries long continue, and the gap between MLS and the EPL draw ever closer. There can only be one winner….all of us mad fans!