CARSON, Calif. – Long thought of as one of the great, traditional English clubs, Tottenham Hotspur have only recently begun to establish themselves as a real force and title contender in the Premier League. But they have a kindred soul in the Galaxy and MLS, a team and league that Spurs’ players believe are also starting to come into their own.
“Last time we came over here, we came over here a few years ago to San Jose, it was great facilities and a great standard of football,” Tottenham’s star winger Gareth Bale said on Sunday, “We’ve only been over here for a day at the moment but so far everything seems to be pretty unbelievable.”
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And Bale knows good football. The 23-year-old burst onto the international scene two years ago with a set of virtuoso performances against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League and has continued to dazzle ever since. But he believes that the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer have also begun to shine as well.
“The standard’s gone up massively in the last couple of years,” he continued, “They have great players and it’s great to be out here on preseason and play teams like that, it gets us ready for our season.”
Midfield star Rafael Van der Vaart agrees, noting that the Galaxy’s acquisitions of players like David Beckham and Robbie Keane have helped to raise the profile and level of competition in the league.
“We’ve played with Keano, of course, he’s a great player, and it’s good to have that caliber of players that play here, because soccer can grow here in America.”
“They’re great players, and they play for a good team.” Bale added.
The Galaxy have raised their international profile, Spurs players believe, by making themselves a realistic destination for European players and simultaneously elevating the level of play at the MLS stage. Robbie Keane’s choice to come to LA while still playing at a high level, for example, was a decision that placed them firmly on the European radar.
“We’ve obviously played with Keano, and Beckham came to train with us a few years ago, but we watch them,” Bale said of the Galaxy, “they’re on TV all the time now.”
The rising awareness among the international soccer community shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, as the Galaxy lead the charge in a league that shows more than tangible growth at the domestic level, with attendance figures rising for the 3rd consecutive year and TV ratings increases of over 80% in some markets. All in all, MLS has become a league where teams can provide valuable preseason opponents for European clubs like Tottenham, and their players know it.
“It’s a great experience, and it’s a great standard of football and gets us ready for our season,” Bale remarked, “It’s going to be a good test.”
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