No Longer a Retirement Home
In 2007, David Beckham put MLS on the map. He ended up playing six years for the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning the MLS Cup in 2011 and 2012. He was followed by a series of players who won it all in Europe, including Kaka, Thierry Henry, David Villa, Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and, most recently, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The thing is that most of those players were on the brink of retirement. The new wave, which includes a five-time UEFA Champions League winner, has much more to offer. Let’s check who’s going to have the biggest impact, including any changes in the soccer odds to dethrone New York City FC.
The New England Revolution made a statement by signing 23-year-old Giacomo Vrioni from Juventus, the Italian powerhouse. He barely played for the Vecchia Signora, but he became a lethal striker while playing for WSG Tirol, an Austrian Bundesliga team. Last season, he scored 21 goals in 31 games.
Head coach Bruce Arena expects Vrioni to have an instant impact either accompanying or replacing Gustavo Bou, the team’s top scorer. Being so young, Vrioni should have no problem playing every three days.
Prior to the start of the season, the Revs were among the favorites to win the 2022 MLS cup. Nevertheless, they’re currently ninth in the Eastern Conference, meaning they need to start winning ASAP and Vrioni can be of great help.
Lorenzo Insigne is 31 years old and played for Napoli, another Italian powerhouse, from 2009 to 2022. He ended up appearing in 434 games and scored 122 goals. He contributed for Napoli to win the Coppa Italia in 2013-14 and 2019-20. In fact, he was the tournament’s top scorer in 2013-14.
He made his debut with Italy’s senior team in 2012. Overall, he has scored 10 goals in 54 games. Two of those goals were during the 2020 European Championship, which Italy won by defeating England in the Grand Finale. He scored the winning goal against Belgium in the quarterfinals.
Now, he plays for Toronto FC, and his main goal is to lead the team back into the postseason. The Reds are currently sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, offering a +4000 price in the sportsbook to win the title. Jesus Jimenez is the team’s top scorer with eight goals; no other striker has scored more than three goals. Thanks to Insigne, that should change pretty soon.
Los Angeles FC expects Gareth Bale to have the most impact. After all, he helped Real Madrid win five Champions League titles between 2013 and 2022. Like Insigne, Bale is 31 years old. He even had several offers from European teams.
“The club’s really on the rise. It’s very new, but it’s something that’s really glamorous and it’s a very attractive club. Just speaking with them, it felt really like the right thing to do. It felt like home straight away. Plus, I can help with the youngsters,” Bale explained in an interview.
LAFC is atop the Western Conference and is the league’s top scoring team, so he should fit right in. Bale’s a sprinter, capable of playing as a winger or center forward. He and Carlos Vela have the potential to become the best attacking duo in MLS.
LAFC was already the betting online favorites to win the title, +325, but Bale’s signing greatly increases their chances. He’s a certified winner with plenty of gas left in the tank.
Hector Herrera spent the last eight years playing in Europe. After three seasons playing in Mexico for Pachuca, he signed for FC Porto of the Primeira Liga. He stayed there for six seasons, scoring 35 goals in 253 games. He also had 35 assists.
Later, the Mexican moved to Spain to play for Atletico Madrid. He played three seasons for Los Colchoneros but fell short of meeting expectations. Now, he hopes to re-emerge in MLS with the Houston Dynamo.
With Mexico’s national team, he played in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. He contributed to win the gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2015 Gold Cup. In other words, he’s a very experienced player and a certified winner.
The Dynamo qualified to the postseason for the last time in 2017. Herrera is determined to change that.
We couldn’t leave Giorgio Chiellini out of the list. LAFC’s new center back is about to turn 38 years old. Even so, he still can contribute a lot for LAFC to win its first MLS Cup. After all, he knows a thing or two about winning domestic titles. Chiellini won the Italian Serie A with Juventus nine times.
Last season, LAFC didn’t qualify for the postseason. With Bale and Chiellini, they shouldn’t only qualify, but also make it to the promised land. Therefore, now would be a great time to include LAFC in your soccer picks.
We also wanted to include Wayne Rooney, who played for D.C. United between 2017 and 2018. He’s already retired, but he’s expected to return as the Black and Red head coach. It’s not yet official, but all signs point to it.
D.C. United currently sits in the Eastern Conference last place, but there’s still plenty of time to turn things around.
DC United and Wayne Rooney have agreed on terms, multiple sources tell me tonight. Rooney, who starred for the club as a player, will be their newest manager. #DCU
— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) July 11, 2022