Is it time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to move to MLS?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 years old and recovering from a serious knee injury but that doesn’t stop the Swede from being linked with some of the biggest clubs on the planet. Such is the pedigree of the striker who left Manchester United at the end of last season. The man who calls himself Zlatan has long been linked with a move to MLS and with the list of likely European destinations apparently growing shorter, is it now the right time for Zlatan to move to the States? LA Galaxy have been interested in the past but after the signing of Jonathan dos Santos, their new city neighbours LAFC could be the right destination for Ibrahimovic.

Career

There haven’t been many more successful players in Europe in the last few decades. He’s won trophies with six clubs, league titles with five and despite his age, Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t done yet. After spells in Sweden and the Netherlands, Ibrahimovic moved to Serie A in 2004 where his career really took off. He spent two years at Juventus before the Swede moved to Inter Milan where he won three consecutive league titles. After a less-than successful year at Barcelona, he returned to Italy with city rivals AC, helping the Milan side win the double in 2011.

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The forward then spent four incredibly successful seasons with PSG before moving to Manchester United for a single year just last summer. His move to Manchester United was something of a surprise. Ibrahimovic has long been linked with a move to the MLS, according to Bleacher Report and those links have returned now his time in England is seemingly over. His spell at Manchester United was cut short following a nasty knee injury picked up in April.

Links to MLS and injuries

LA Galaxy have long been admirers of Sweden’s all-time leading goalscorer, with reports earlier this year suggesting he had signed a pre-contract agreement with the club. It was believed at the time that Galaxy had ‘blown United out of the water’ with the deal offered to the Swede but that was back in March. The situation has changed immensely since then and the player’s injury a month later probably had a lot to do with that. The Galaxy looked elsewhere and completed the signing of Villarreal midfielder and brother of Giovani, Jonathan dos Santos in late July. That takes them to three Designated Players and effectively rules them out of a big-money move for Ibrahimovic unless they sell one of their current stars.

Galaxy were undoubtedly put off by Ibrahimovic’s injury but is it as bad as feared? Players far younger than Ibrahimovic had their careers ruined by similar injuries but the Swede’s agent gave these incredible quotes about the problem a few months ago.

“His knee is so strong that the doctors said they had never seen anything like it,” Mino Raiola said back in May.

“He has a knee that it is almost impossible for a football player with a 20-year career to have. It was quite clean, there was no harm in it.

“Zlatan is so strong that the doctor wants him back after his career to research on him.”

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It remains to be seen whether that’s true or an agent just trying to squeeze one last big money move from his client. Still, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an incredible athlete. At 35 years old and after four seasons in France, the Swede came into the Premier League and controlled Manchester United at times last season. He scored a bucket load of goals and looked just as fit and strong as he did a decade ago. He would be a coup for almost any club on the planet but how many could actually sign him?

The Next Move

As of August 1, Manchester United are 31/50 favourites to re-sign the Swede, with any MLS club at 5/4 according to Betway. Italian sides AC Milan and Juventus are out at 6/1 and 8/1 respectively before a big jump out to 20/1 for Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg. Manchester United have, of course, signed Romelu Lukaku which makes a move for Ibrahimovic appear unlikely so the States now looks like the best bet.

Few sides could afford the Swede whose signing would carry many pros and cons. He’s a worldwide name and is the player MLS fans would like to see join the league most, according to a recent poll. Despite that, he won’t be able to play for a while and would require a huge contract which limits the number of realistic options. The best one out there is Los Angeles FC. The LA side will join MLS next season and they are in need of a star player after the appointment of head coach Bob Bradley. Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be perfect and could spend the next few months helping the club grow while recuperating from his injury ahead of the side’s MLS debut next season.

It’s unclear how likely a move is but Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be an ideal signing for LAFC. He’s one of the most successful players of the last twenty years and carries with him a global recognition. He may be recuperating from a nasty knee injury but LAFC won’t be playing until next March so he won’t be missing much for now. Ibrahimovic is just the sort of name that LAFC – and MLS – needs and would be a fantastic coup for both the club and the league.

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Premier League clubs beginning to circle around NYCFC’s Jack Harrison – Report

Jack Harrison is having one hell of a season. So it comes as no real surprise that his performances with New York City FC in 2017 have caught the eye of clubs back in England, with Kristian Dyer reporting that a couple of teams are eyeing up a move.

The Stoke-born 20 year old was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and enjoyed a promising breakthrough season last term. He notched up four goals and seven assists in 21 regular season games but has stepped up another gear this campaign.

Photo: Chris Kachanoski/MLSGB

Harrison has already doubled his goal tally from last season, scoring eight in 19 games. He’s also provided five assists and has had a hand in either a goal or assist in six of his last eight matches.

But his displays mean NYCFC might have a battle on their hands if they’re to keep hold of one of Major League Soccer’s rising stars. Kristian Dyer revealed on the MSG Network that Harrison is the subject of interest from a few clubs back in England.

“One, if not two Premier League clubs are looking at him, as well as a number of Championship teams,” Dyer said.



“But the price tag might become an issue here. He would cost a lot more than Matt Miazga did two years ago, in terms of the transfer fee.”

Miazga joined Chelsea from the Red Bulls for around $5 million back in January 2016, playing twice before being sent on loan to Vitesse. He played 35 times for the Dutch club last term but is back at Chelsea now.

Harrison is the same age now as Miazga was when he moved to Europe 18 months ago. But as Dyer points out, it will take a more significant offer to lure him out of MLS.

Harrison is seemingly improving all the time. He is benefiting from the experience and leadership of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo. So he has no real reason to jump ship at the midpoint of a successful MLS campaign. But every player has their price. If a big-money offer comes in from the Premier League, NYCFC might have to plan for life without Jack Harrison.

Orlando City star linked with £2m move to Everton to replace Lukaku this summer

Everton are looking across the pond to Major League Soccer as they line up a summer move for Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, who the Toffees see as an ideal replacement for the seemingly outgoing Romelu Lukaku, according to the Sun.

Everton scouts have been watching Larin take MLS by storm since joining the league with Orlando in 2015. He’s scored a total of 34 goals in 61 regular season games and has added three assists in that time.

At 21, Larin is clearly a player with a big future ahead of him. Orlando fans would love to think they could hold onto their prolific frontman for the foreseeable future but interest from a Premier League club like Everton will have to be taken seriously by both the player and the club itself.

Larin is expected to cost around £2 million if Everton firm up their interest in the coming months, but that would surely only happen if Lukaku does indeed depart at the end of the season.

The Belgian forward has refused to sign a new five-year deal as he wants to play in the Champions League for one of Europe’s elite clubs. He is currently the Premier League’s top goalscorer after netting 21 goals in 28 appearances so far this season – the best tally of his career.

A return to former club Chelsea is on the cards as it appears increasingly unlikely that the 23-year-old talisman will be plying his trade at Goodison Park next term.

The Toffees might well look to Larin if they lose Lukaku but they can expect competition, with European rivals Besiktas, Celtic and Benfica also reported to be circling around the Canada international.

Would Cyle Larin be a good signing for Everton if they lose Romelu Lukaku? Is he ready to leave MLS for the Premier League?

Three Premier League players that could move to MLS as free agents this summer

There are still eight weeks left of the 2016/17 Premier League campaign but the futures of a number of the division’s top players are still hanging in the balance with contracts that are set to expire on June 30.

Major League Soccer clubs are constantly looking to strengthen squads, especially with experienced stars from Europe that can be brought in for free to help turn a season on its head at the midway point of the campaign.

That should be no different this summer, so here are three players that could join MLS as free agents in the coming months.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic has been in incredible form during his first season in English football, firing in 26 goals and helping Manchester United to win the League Cup in February. But as things stand it appears as though this could be the big striker’s only season in England, with LA Galaxy keen on making him the best-paid player in MLS history if he chooses not to extend his United contract past June 30.

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United are keen on extending Ibrahimovic’s contract for at least one more season but the chance to enjoy the Hollywood lifestyle in Los Angeles might be enough to tempt him to move to MLS this year.

Current wages: £220,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: LA Galaxy

Pablo Zabaleta

Zabaleta has been at Manchester City for nine seasons but there are no signs that a new contract will be offered to the 32-year-old. He hasn’t been as important for the Citizens over the last two seasons and has only started 10 of City’s 29 Premier League games under Guardiola this term.

West Ham have been linked with a move for the Argentine international if he does indeed leave City on a free this summer but MLS clubs would surely be monitoring the situation in case Zabaleta decides he wants to move closer to his homeland for the final years of his professional career. MLS clubs have been switching their focus to defensive players over the last few months and Zabaleta would present plenty of teams with an experienced addition if they’re willing to spend the money on his wages.

Current wages: £90,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: Montreal Impact

Lucas Leiva

Lucas is in his tenth season in the English top flight but it could well be his last as Liverpool don’t look set to extend the Brazilian midfielder’s contract. He has been used more in the centre of the Reds’ defence under Jurgen Klopp this season than in midfield, playing just 570 minutes in the Premier League after 29 matches.

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He is still only 30 and has a lot to offer any side who picks him up this summer. He appeared close to moving to Turkey last summer but if MLS sides want someone who can break play up in the defensive third, then there will be few better free options than Lucas in the coming months. The New York Red Bulls still have a void to fill following the departure of Dax McCarty in January and with a DP slot available, don’t be shocked to see them make a move for Liverpool’s longest-serving player.

Current wages: £80,000 per week
Possible MLS destination: New York Red Bulls

Andres Iniesta rejects £28m-a-year offer from China with NYCFC move still on the cards

New York City FC will not have given up hope on signing Barcelona Andres Iniesta just yet, with Spanish outlet Don Balon claiming the midfielder has rejected an offer from the Chinese Super League worth £28 million per season ($35 million).

Iniesta has just over a year remaining on his current Barca contract. The club’s sporting director Robert Fernandez has claimed the World Cup winner will renew with the club he has spent his entire career at but he has yet to put pen to paper.

“He will renew at the moment he chooses,” Fernandez said. “Andres deserves the best. He grew here as a player and he’s given everything for the club. I can’t imagine a Barcelona without him and he can’t either.”

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Fernandez is right. It is tough to imagine Barcelona without Iniesta and while it looks likely he will see out his illustrious career with the Blaugrana, there is still a chance that he could be tempted to finish his playing career in MLS alongside his former club and Spanish teammate David Villa.

Rejecting a big-money offer from China suggests the eight-time La Liga champion is not solely interested in securing a big pay packet before hanging up his boots. NYCFC have reportedly offered Iniesta a ‘blank cheque’ when it comes to any possible contract negotiations but they can offer more than just money, with David Villa likely to be the deal breaker if he does indeed make the move stateside.

The 2016 MLS MVP has previously encouraged his former teammate to “share the American experience” with him in New York City, although Villa will be 36 by the time Iniesta’s contract expires at Barcelona and surely in one of his final seasons himself.

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The catch here is that the only way it seems Iniesta joins NYCFC is if Andrea Pirlo hangs his own boots up at the end of the year. The Italian maestro will turn 38 in May and only has nine months remaining on his current MLS deal – while the same applies for Villa.

It’s quite feasible to assume Pirlo will retire at the end of the year, leaving NYCFC with a free Designated Player slot as well as a healthy amount of money to spend on wages for a direct replacement. That replacement could then be Iniesta.

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Nothing is set in stone at this stage, but the Barca star will have to adapt to life under a new head coach once Luis Enrique departs this summer. He’s also only played 791 minutes in La Liga this season and is on track to play fewer league games than in any of the previous 12 seasons, proving that his role is shifting as his age becomes a factor.

The NYCFC door appears to be open, it’s just a question of if that door is more appealing than a new Barca contract for Iniesta.

Do you think we’ll ever see Iniesta playing in MLS? Or will he remain with Barcelona for the rest of his career?

Yaya Toure’s agent reveals MLS not an option but hints at United switch

Yaya Toure’s Manchester City career looks set to come to an end this summer but he might not be leaving the city, with his agent Dimitri Seluk suggesting a move to rivals Manchester United could happen.

Toure is believed to be keen on extending his contract at the Etihad but with his current deal set to expire in three months and no sign of a new offer from City, Seluk has started the process of finding the Ivorian midfielder a new club.

At 33, Toure still has at least a couple more seasons in the tank but he looks set to remain in Europe with his agent dismissing offers from China and MLS as he looks to find the two-time Premier League winner a new home.

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“Some clubs have contacted me,” Seluk said. “Now we have three options. I don’t speak about Yaya and China or the MLS. He will play in Europe. I have spoken with clubs in different countries; Italy and Spain.

“We waited until March 15 for what Manchester City will say but until now Manchester City don’t say anything. Before March, we didn’t negotiate with anybody because Yaya does a lot with Manchester City, so we waited. But we cannot wait until the last minute.”

Toure could well stay in the Premier League, with Seluk suggesting a shock move to City’s arch rivals United could still go ahead, while praising Jose Mourinho as a great coach.

“Why not?” Seluk said when asked about a possible move to Old Trafford. “Jose Mourinho is a very good coach. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was together with Yaya in Barcelona.

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“I understand this is two clubs who are rivals but for me, this is not a problem from Yaya or from me, this problem will be from Manchester City staff.”

Toure was frozen out of Pep Guardiola’s plans at the start of the season because of comments made by Seluk and his latest outburst will have done little to help an already fragile season.

The former Barcelona midfielder has gone on to play 21 games for the Citizens this season, scoring six goals, but was left on the bench as City crashed out of the Champions League in Monaco on Wednesday night.

Can you see Yaya Toure going to Manchester United this summer?

Second Manchester United star closing in on Summer MLS move

Bastian Schweinsteiger seems destined to finish his career in MLS with reports linking him with a move stateside refuse to go away as the Manchester United midfielder is once again being targeted by the Chicago Fire, according to Guillermo Rivera.

Schweinsteiger has fallen down the pecking order at United – featuring just four times this season in all competitions – and will surely be allowed to leave at the end of the season, despite the fact he has one more year remaining on his contract with the club.

The Red Devils are believed to be willing to terminate the German legend’s contract if a suitable offer is presented to the player and so he would be able to join on a free transfer from July 1.

Chicago Fire are thought to be keeping close tabs on the former Bayern Munich hero, even though they now have two of Major League Soccer’s best holding midfielders in Juninho and Dax McCarty following a busy winter of transfer activity.

If he does complete a move to MLS, Schweinsteiger could follow his current United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic across the pond, as the striker has been offered a pay rise if he decides against staying in Manchester to instead join LA Galaxy in the coming months.

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Unlike Ibrahimovic, Schweinsteiger is not thought to have been offered more money to move to the United States and will instead have to accept his salary dropping from £140,000 per week to around £90,000, which works out as roughly $3.6 million per MLS season.

It is unclear just how much contact there has been between Chicago and the 32-year-old World Cup winner, although it is looking increasingly likely he will make the switch to MLS this year so don’t be surprised to see him pen a pre-contract agreement in the coming weeks.

Do you think Bastian Schweinsteiger would be a good signing for the Chicago Fire? 

LA Galaxy prepared to blow Man United out of water with $18m contract offer for Ibrahimovic

LA Galaxy are prepared to prove they’re serious about bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to MLS this summer by making him the highest-paid player in league history, with an offer that would see him pick up a significant pay rise from his current Manchester United deal, according to the Express.

Ibrahimovic currently earns around £11 million per season at United, which equates to about £210,000 per week. However the Galaxy are reportedly offering the iconic striker a deal worth £15 million a year – £290,000 per week.

That works out as roughly $18 million per season, although with Ibrahimovic currently 35-years-old it is unclear how many seasons he’ll be offered on any potential deal with LA.

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What is clear is that as things stand Ibrahimovic will be a free agent for the second time in as many years come the end of June, as he is yet to put pen to paper on a one-year extension at United despite reportedly agreeing to earlier this season.

There is a good chance an agreement will be reached with the Red Devils before the end of the season, although his decision will likely be made easier once he knows where the club’s European commitments lie next season, as another year without Champions League football might not be deemed good enough.

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Kaka is currently the highest-paid player in MLS, earning around $7.1m a season with bonuses included. So Ibrahimovic’s deal would see him earn almost three times as much as the Orlando City star and make him the highest-paid player in league history by some margin.

The Galaxy have a Designated Player spot free for Ibrahimovic should he join, following the winter departures of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard. Giovani Dos Santos and new signing Romain Alessandrini currently occupy two of the three DP slots.

Ibrahimovic has taken English football by storm since joining United last summer, scoring 26 goals in all competitions and firing the club to League Cup glory just a few weeks ago.

But with LA Galaxy looking very serious about a move for the former Sweden international and huge figures being thrown about, Ibrahimovic will surely be tempted to opt for the Californian lifestyle as soon as this summer.

Do you think we’ll see Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to MLS as soon as this summer?

MLS players reveal Man United striker would be best possible signing ahead of Messi and Ronaldo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the best possible addition to MLS of all the names in world football, according to the results of an ESPN survey of more than 140 current Major League Soccer players.

The survey, which included players from 21 different teams, suggested that the Manchester United forward is the most-wanted man in MLS – for the players themselves at least – ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

New York City FC are the only MLS team who declined to participate in ESPN’s survey, which ensures anonymity for all those who take part in answering a wide range of questions.

On the topic of who they’d most like to see join MLS as the next Designated Player, Ibrahimovic came out on top with 22% of current MLS players naming him as their No.1 target.

The powerful striker has taken the Premier League by storm in his debut season in English football, despite being 35 years old, and could still move to MLS before he finishes his illustrious career.

He was heavily linked with a move stateside last summer when his PSG contract had expired, and although he chose to join up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, he has been quoted as saying he could see himself “conquering the U.S. as I have with Europe” in the past.

Ronaldo and Messi are two unsurprising names that MLS players also want to see jump across the pond, with the Barcelona man just edging the Madrid star in the voting.

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The likes of Neymar, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez are all names that cropped up as part of the poll, with the most-wanted stars listed below, based on the poll results:

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 22%
  2. Lionel Messi – 20%
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo – 17%
  4. Neymar – 6%
  5. Wayne Rooney – 6%
  6. Javier Hernandez – 4%
  7. Andres Iniesta – 4%

Ibrahimovic is currently only contracted at Man United until the end of the season. United appear to want to tie him down for another two years, but the striker is not believed to be keen on doing so, so we could yet see him plying his trade in MLS before the end of his career.

Would Zlatan Ibrahimovic be the best possible signing for MLS in world football?

Getting Stuck In: Youth is being served

By David Lewis

The season is about to kickoff. Fresh signings. Fresh kits. Fresh expectations. For many clubs it’s time to roll out their newest, shiny (or rusty) DP that has more wear and tear on its tires than a “68 VW Beetle (See last year’s Drogba model.) But wait, something strange is going on. Front office execs are finally seeing the light. They no longer hang their hats on mid-thirty Europeans like Pirlo (he’s been ok with NYCFC) and Lampard (more Fat Frank than Super Frank). MLS is finally shedding their “retirement league” stigma and going for the twenty-something DP – and in many cases early 20’s. Ok, the league may still revert to their old ways and make a big splash from time to time to up the league’s profile and kit sales (Ibra and Rooney next maybe?), but that’s the exception, we hope.

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Side note: I expect LAFC to make some big over-the-hill signings next year when they join the league, but that’s because it’s Hollywood. It’s a star-driven city, whereas a place like Kansas City doesn’t have the pressure from their fan base to make the big European signing.

So why the seismic shift? Well, the bottom line is that clubs aren’t getting their money’s worth for these aging Euro stars. Gerrard and Lampard played parts of two season each in MLS. Both struggled with injuries which isn’t too shocking since they are geriatric in terms of soccer age. Gerrard played 34 games and Lampard limped around for 29. Considering there are 34 regular season games each year, well, let’s just say they spent more time with the physio than with their teammates. And when it comes to production, the two England internationals managed a combined 20 goals and 18 assists, which is about the same as an average season for Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, MLS: NYCFC vs. LA Galaxy

Yes, I was excited to see my hero Stevie G play in MLS. I even contemplated the sacrilegious move of a getting an LA Galaxy jersey (never did). But I wound up feeling sad that this once great man mailed it in and saw his 18-month stay in the states as a holiday. I will always remember Istanbul Stevie and will try to forget about the LA version.

I may be biased, but I feel (my) Columbus Crew started the trend: Get players in their prime, youngish, who want to play in MLS. Federico Higuain, the brother of Napoli star Gonzalo, has been one of the best midfielders in the league since he arrived at the soccer-prime age of 27. He played in Europe and South America and is the heart and soul of the Crew midfield, spraying passes all over the field with aplomb. His 39 goals and 35 assists over 123 games doesn’t tell the entire story. He’s dedicated to the league, has a great attitude, makes a sixth of what Gerrard made, and is the blueprint for what an MLS DP should be. And most importantly, he doesn’t need a cane to get around the field. (Other recent similar successes include: Giovani Dos Santos, Ignacio Piatti, Diego Valeri and Nicolás Lodeiro).

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2017 expansion side Atlanta United have taken it to a new level with their youth movement. Let’s call this MLS 3.0.

Instead of taking established players in their mid-to-late-twenties as their DPs, as has been the trend the last few years, they are blending in signing players with raw potential from Central and South America who are closer to teen age. That means some hefty transfer fees (by MLS standards) so they can beat out European clubs for player signatures. This has never happened before in MLS. Ever.

Here are some of the young blood DPs on MLS rosters right now, ahead of the opening weekend of the new season, some of whom are the envy of the soccer world:

  • Atlanta United have signed three South American DPs. Josef Martinez (23) from Venezuela is on loan from Serie A side Tornio with an option to buy at the end of the season. Hector Villalba (22) is from Argentina and Miguel Almiron (22) from Paraguay.
  • Houston Dynamo have Mauro Manotas (21), a Columbian Under-21 international and Alberth Elis (21) from Honduras, who is currently the youngest DP in MLS.
  • DC United have Luciano Acosta (22) from Argentina, looking primed for a fine second season in the league.
  • FC Dallas have Carlos Gruezo from Ecuador (21) and have added Christian Colman (22) from Paraguay this offseason, a man expected to fire in plenty of goals this year.
  • Vancouver Whitecaps have brought in Yordy Reyna (23) from Peru; not a DP but TAM was used to buy his contract down.

So yes, the Wayne Rooney’s of the world will probably make the trip stateside sooner rather than later. And hopefully Wayne will be more Robbie Keane and David Villa and less Lampard and Gerrard. But MLS 3.0 is the new trend. Hopefully these raw young talents will help MLS become a legitimate league that can grow a player’s career.

Youth might be wasted on the young. MLS can’t afford to do that in 2017.