For Thierry Henry, there’s one big sign that MLS is a different league now than it was ten years ago when the joined the New York Red Bulls as a player.
“The League was always trying to get guys at the end of their contracts, to see if they would come or not,” Henry told reporters on a Zoom conference call today. “Now, teams are getting those players... early. Straight away. Young age.”
Henry, who is now the head coach of the Montreal Impact, specifically mentioned young players joining MLS from two countries—Mexico and Argentina. In Chicago, the Fire have gone in a very new direction this season, signing two designated players from Argentina—Gaston Gimenez, who is 28, and Ignacio Aliseda, who just turned 20.
It’s a big shift from signing aging European stars, like Bastian Schweinsteiger, or even Thierry Henry.
“That’s a sign that the league is evolving,” Henry said. “This league has no limit, for me.”
As a player, Henry was notoriously demanding of his teammates, perhaps even impatient. But when it comes to MLS, Henry said growth will take time.
“This is the 25th anniversary of the league this year,” Henry said. “You have other leagues that are 100 years, some a bit less. You have clubs in Europe that are 125 years old. It’s difficult to battle history, so let the league grow.”
Henry said he’s riding out the coronavirus shutdown in Montreal by working out, cooking a lot, and cleaning—”It seems like you need to clean the house every two minutes now,” he joked. He’s staying in touch with his players and staff, and hoping his players are following instructions and staying in shape.
Leagues in countries like France and the Netherlands have already canceled the rest of their seasons, while in Germany, Bundesliga teams have been training in hopes of resuming play.
MLS has currently banned training through May 15, and halted matches until early June, but there’s been no sign the league is considering canceling the entire season. Clearly, MLS has more time to decide than the European leagues, because the League runs on a spring-to-fall schedule.
Henry said he’s hopeful MLS Commissioner Don Garber will make the right call.
“I’m sure the commissioner, and whoever is involved to make that decision are working extremely hard to find out what we’re about to do,” Henry said. “All we can do on our side is to be focused and prepared for whatever’s gonna come our way. They’re gonna make the decision, and we’ll execute whatever they want us to execute.”