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Andik Vermansyah and the view of MLS from abroad

In an editorial in the Jakarta Globe, Pangeran Siahaan argues that more Indonesian soccer players need to play abroad in order to develop into a force on the international level. The article was written in response to Andik Vermansyah training with D.C. United (which all of the Indonesian papers have called a trial). Another Indonesian news outlet featured photographs from the Reserve League game in which Vermansyah appeared and a link to D.C. United's highlight video, which already has over 130k views.

What is most striking about the article to me, however, is how all of the complaints in the article could and have been said about MLS and American players in the recent past. You and I have all seen similar quotes in American press and blogs: "The fact that only few Indonesian players play abroad suggests two things: They easily get homesick and don't have the courage try their luck in foreign soil or maybe they’re simply not good enough."

There is obviously no comparing the Indonesian league to MLS, nor the United States as a soccer nation to Indonesia. And, of course, MLS has areas upon which it needs to improve. However, I hope the people that continue to trash MLS and completely disregard it read these things and realize how quickly the league is raising its standard of play. With all the navelgazing MLS fans tend to do, we forget that it has become a league in which players aspire to play.

The other leagues mentioned in the article in which Indonesian players have plied their trade include Thailand, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Sweden, with MLS as a pinnacle the only their Messi might currently reach. And honestly? This is a good place for MLS to be right now. People keep talking about MLS 1.0, MLS 2.0, and now even MLS 3.0 with regard to play within the league; perhaps it is now time to use the monikers for the view of the league from the outside. If MLS 1.0 was the league struggling to find its footing and growing within an American audience, we are now firmly entrenched in MLS 2.0: a league in which players from around the world now aspire to play and a league that produces quality talent. There is a reason that Honduran newspapers, for example, cover every game that Roger Espinoza and Andy Najar play.

Despite the haters, despite the referee problems, despite games still played on turf, despite legitimate ways in which it can (and should) improve, MLS is in a good place and continuing to grow faster than it has any right to. Don't let the haters keep you down.