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Drogba: Playing in MLS “more difficult than playing in the Premier League”

Photo by Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports

Didier Drogba was one of the biggest signings of the 2015 MLS season, and his ability to make scoring goals in MLS look easy helped Montreal drive into a playoff berth.

As easy as Drogba made things look, the former Chelsea legend made a point recently to make it clear his transition into MLS has been far from easy, going as far as to say in a recent interview with Reuters that playing in MLS is actually tougher than playing in the English Premier League.

Now before any European soccer fans go crazy over that statement, it should be made clear that Drogba was referring to the challenges players face while playing in MLS. He wasn’t saying the level of play in MLS is better than in the EPL.

“It’s a different challenge (in MLS),” Drogba told Reuters. “People think it’s easy to play there. Believe me, it’s more difficult than playing in the Premier League because of the travel.

“You can stay at an airport for three or four hours if you miss your flight, so that is what is really leveling the game.”

Drogba’s comments about MLS weren’t limited to complaints about travel. He did give the league credit for being headed in the right direction.

“It’s a growing league and I think it’s going to be one of the most important and decisive leagues in the world in a few years,” Drogba told Reuters.

Drogba’s comments are similar to comments made by LA Galaxy star Steven Gerrard, who stated recently that the league wound up being much tougher than he expected.


  1. How many times will MLS needing foreign great players to say the same thing. In my opinion, MLS being a top league is harder than what MLS makes it seems. If being a top league can happen as quickly as MLS said, then other leagues (including the great ones) are dropping the ball. When it comes to thinking of a league that could one day be among the top is Liga MX. Liga MX have the quality, wonderful player development, parity (without it being forced like MLS), have a growing market and with players, fans and club owners hungry for success. When it come to MLS, the league itself it lacking in many ways.

    First, the Americanized league system only appeals to minority of soccer fans. Most soccer fans in this country don’t want to see another crappy Americanized league that wants to grow based off the NFL. That is a stupid model because they already gives a middle finger to soccer fans that loved soccer by how the world do it. We don’t need every sports league dress the same because a few are successful. American soccer has never been successful running like other sports and our soccer leagues never survive after expanding past 24 clubs. So, why does the USSF keep coming out with this type of league?

    Second, the growth of MLS is mainly shown through the increasing attendance, but not the quality of the teams. Sure a few good players joined the league like Dos Santos, but that does not mean the team they are in is in good quality. When you mix a few good players into an average to mediocre team, do not expect any successes outside of the league if they are even successful. Orlando, Toronto, New York City and LA have all great players they spent millions of dollars on and none of them won anything this season. Not even a CONCACAF Championship League spot. None of those teams are currently competing in the MLS Cup playoffs.

    Third, they can not take criticism. Criticism is apart of sports and it is what drives players, clubs and leagues to do better. MLS can not take criticism and some of the fans support them on being babies. Things like player development, the lack of free agency, growing the league to big, league quality, the league system and being a league that monopolizes other soccer organizations under the USSF are all things that deserve to be criticized because they are problems that needs to be fixed. One league is not good enough for a large nation under a international market. We need to get soccer where big, medium and small (to a degree) cities have a soccer club where our youth players can attend and grow.

    Fourth, there is no proof the Americanized system is going to work and put MLS on the same level as the best European, South American, Asian (there needs to be proof to say MLS is above any Asian leagues) and Mexico one day. MLS needs to man up and compete in more competitve meaningful games. I supported MLS and for seven years I followed MLS’s system blindly without thinking. I seen MLS trying to start a marketing skim more than actually proving to the world they are growing without saying it nor without foreign great players put on the spot. After two decades of the MLS being here, I have not seen one good player yet that has not joined their academies without being trained by another youth club or school. Players like Yedlin, Dempsey and Tim Howard all became the players they are way before MLS even touched them. How disappointing.

  2. Concorde……… I do agree about US soccer media’s apparent insecurity/ constantly barraging players with these questions or the perennial annoying question to visiting Euro stars about if they would ever come to MLS.

    That said- I’m pretty sure I read the interview from which the original quote came at another site and was by English media, so not the case this time.

    • I’m pretty sure Henry also said same things- much harder league to play in because of travel and also having to play in the middle of the summer in 90 degrees in places like Dallas

      • And Gerrard added that you can go from playing in 105 degrees in Dallas to playing at altitude in Denver as an additional difficulty. And it’s not just the travel, but the fact that you may be crossing 3 different time zones. Most European leagues all play in the same time zone, Russia probably being the one exception. In the NFL, teams crossing the country also have a lot of difficulty with the time zone difference.

    • Drogba also said MLS was growing in the right direction. You might dismiss that as politeness, but he did talk about more than travel.

    • Oh wow – Eurosnobs probably had a heart attack when they saw that headline. Now they can breathe a sigh of relief – “phew, he was talking about travel!” For some reason it’s important to MLS haters to remind everyone every time they can that MLS isn’t at the level of top European leagues – even though no one ever claims it is. One day (sooner than the haters think) it will be as good as the best leagues in the world. Then what will the haters do?

      • I read a lot of news and the impression I get is that MLS, media, fans are insecure about their quality of play, status in the world game, and so that only invites comparisons. The same questions get asked of every former European player, what do you expect them to say? They work for MLS. And then what do you expect the media to do other than make it a headline? After that what else do you expect the fans of predominantly European soccer to say if they disagree? They are allowed to, especially after media bait players into saying MLS is great. Hell I disagree – it’s alright – and I actually have been a fan of MLS since it’s very first signing, or before it was cool.

      • You disagree with what though? No one is saying that today MLS is at the level of top European leagues. Hell, they can’t even beat LigaMX teams. But that doesn’t mean the league can’t reach that level eventually or that it isn’t worth supporting.

      • This website makes it look like I was replying to my own comment when I was actually replying to Concorde. Website redesign was a total failure. There are far fewer comments on here than there used to be.

      • Yes we can agree the website doesn’t work.

        Like any soccer fan with strong ties to their local club I support MLS almost unconditionally. Just think sometimes vision is clouded by their marketing, which just asks for thes kinds of debates (which need two opposing points of view by nature). Otherwise I’m on board with everything you say

      • Not a hundred percent sure where this comment will show up, but I agree with Slowleftarm and Concorde the website doesn’t work anymore.

      • “There are far fewer comments on here than there used to be.”

        I imagine that has less to do with the format and more to do with the quality of articles and posters who contribute to the comment section.

        The site has tanked on so many levels.

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