To play in the Premier League is seen as a dream for many footballers. Especially when you consider it is arguably the biggest league in the world.
Depending on the player’s club and playing ability, that individual could play their whole career in English football’s top flight. Names such as, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Alan Shearer, and Jamie Carragher are just a few to do this.
However, with the increase of foreign players in the league and many footballers demanding first-team football week-in-week-out, some have had to look to other leagues for this.
Step forward…. The MLS.
America’s top division and a league where plenty of British and Irish talent have found themselves when their careers are coming to an end or if they need a fresh start.
The MLS has seen some of British football’s biggest names feature in the league. Legendary midfielders such as Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are just two to play in the States. At the moment it plays host to England’s all-time top goalscorer Wayne Rooney.
With its ups comes its downs. Despite it potentially being a league to reinvent yourself, it can also be one where you find yourself out of contract after a couple of seasons.
As a result, I have focused on two former British or Irish players who have played in both the Premier League and the MLS who are now free agents.
Chris McCann | 31 |
The 2009-10 Premier League season would see Chris McCann make only seven Premier League appearances for Burnley.
This would be McCann’s first and only season in England’s top flight, as the Lancashire outfit were relegated that very season.
The 31-year-old continued to play for the club a further three seasons before leaving Turf Moor.
He joined Wigan Athletic in July 2013 and won the League One title in the 2015-16 season – his last for the Latics.
Despite being a free agent again, McCann quickly found himself a new club – MLS debutants Atlanta United. He joined the club for their up and coming 2017 season.
His tenure as a United played lasted two seasons. During this time he made 50 appearances in all competitions, scoring once. He also won the 2018 MLS Cup.
The club announced on 9 February that McCann has been released.
Giles Barnes | 30 |
Giles Barnes has played for both Derby County and West Brom in the Premier League making a combined 35 appearances.
The wingers’ only top flight goal came during the 2007-08 season for the Rams.
Barnes was released by West Brom at the end of the 2010-11 season. He then moved to Doncaster Rovers for a year and was unable to keep them from finishing bottom of the Championship table.
He left the Keepmoat Stadium at the end of a dissapointing 2011-12 season.
Still young and hungry to succeed Barnes found himself joining MLS side Houston Dynamos. This was the first of four clubs he would play for in the States.
The London-born, Jamaican International went on to play for Vancouver Whitecaps, Orlando City and Colorado Rapids.
To date his total appearances for American clubs in all competitions is 188. In those 188 games he has scored 39 times.
Barnes was released by Colorado at the end of the 2018 MLS season.
Both men now find themselves out of contract again. Will we see either return to English football? Will another MLS side take a punt on them? We’ll have to wait and see…