That soccer is the world’s game is not in any doubt.
But new figures and a pretty map distributed by Major League Soccer not only emphasise that point but tells us that MLS is becoming increasingly fully integrated into that world.
MLS now draws its players from 62 countries, measured by birthplace not nationality.
Therefore Welsh international Robbie Earnshaw counts as Zambian and three Seattle players Servando Carrasco, Sammy Ochoa and David Estrada are listed as Mexican. Republic of Ireland international Andy O’Brien is listed as English, having been born in Yorkshire.
The most represented nation outside North America is Brazil with 23 players. There are 25 countries who send just one player from Arne Friedrich’s Germany to New Caledonia’s Frederic Piquionne.
This makes MLS North America’s most diverse league according to a press release:
“By places of birth, Major League Soccer fields the most diverse group of athletes among the top five team sports leagues in the United States, with 61 different countries represented as of March 27.”
Although the MLS release lists 61 countries, they do not do themselves justice.
They have bundled New York’s Jonny Steele in as ‘Irish’ with Robbie Keane, Darren O’Dea, Peter McGlynn and Shane O’Neill. MLS’s attempts at uniting Ireland are a little premature.
Steele was born in Larne in County Antrim and has represented Northern Ireland at Under 19s.
After Brazil, Colombia (19), England (15) and France (14) are next on the list.