Commentary: Give me MLS role models over the EPL poseurs any day
So, the English Premier League season is back underway.
Cue, fawning over the game's big names.
But forget your want-away Wayne Rooneys of this world. And don't even get me started on the likes of Luis Suarez.
Rapids players Clint Irwin, Deshorn Brown, Shane O'Neill, Chris Klute and Dillon Powers - who earn less in a year than some of the game's petulant poseurs earn in a day - are true role models.
They play for the love of the sport, not the love of the lucre.
In light of Rooney, Suarez and Tottenham's Gareth Bale seemingly wanting out of their current clubs, there was an article on the BBC website last week, written by former pro Robbie Savage, in which he listed 11 ways to orchestrate a transfer.
Savage, whose company I have been in a number of times and enjoyed, is not an isolated case. I know of other players who have sought to manipulate moves using similar tactics. Player power in Europe has gone far too far, and is one element that MLS has rightfully got a firm grip on.
As fans and followers of this fabulous sport, we demand 100 per cent effort for the badge. A sub-standard performance is not acceptable, and is even more gut-wrenching for loyal supporters when the players in question are earning a king's ransom. I imagine some teammates would take a dim view also, creating hostility in the locker room and a breakdown in team morale.
Irwin and Co. are perfect examples of young men who love their job and are grateful for the opportunity. They're hungry to succeed, not because of the riches involved (MLS boasts few millionaires), but because they're dedicated, professional and have an in-built will-to-win.
Money has transformed the Premier League into one of soccer's most exciting competitions. Sadly, it's made multi-millionaires out of average players, and placed them on jewel-encrusted pedestals. They're out of touch, over-paid, over-priced and - in many cases - over-rated. Money has long-since created a tiered system within the EPL. At the start of every season, we've got a pretty good idea which teams will compete for the prizes, and that's not healthy.
Some are critical of the way MLS do things and, to be honest, I'm not crazy on all their methods, but I'd argue that theirs is a purer product. The fans genuinely feel valued. They can interact with the players, who remain humble, grateful and honest (in the main). Prices are reasonable and, as we're witnessing this season, the competition is unpredictable and enthralling.
So, the next time a EPL star is rumored to be interested in switching to MLS, think long and hard before imagining them in your club colors.