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Assessing the Major League Soccer Brits

:Headline: Assessing the Major League Soccer Brits:
Ahead of the debuts of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard this month, Sports Mole picks out five British players who have benefited from a move to MLS.

With Steven Gerrard set to be unveiled in front of adoring Los Angeles Galaxy supporters this weekend, and Frank Lampard settling into life at New York City FC by taking part in his first training session, the British contingent Stateside is set to grow.

Many have made the move across the channel in years passed, from Gordon Banks and George Best through to Jermain Defoe and David Beckham in recent times - each with varying degrees of success.

Here, Sports Mole picks out five former Premier League players who opted to try their luck in Major League Soccer in an attempt to revamp their flagging careers.


1. Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)

It was a no-win situation for Wright-Phillips in many ways. Since joining New York Red Bulls in 2013, the former Manchester City product has been a revelation, bagging 27 goals in 32 appearances last season on his way to being crowned the division's joint-top scorer.

However, that has only led to more questions concerning the quality - or lack thereof - of America's top league. For a player who struggled to make an impact in four separate stints in the Championship to top score elsewhere, it is suggested, simply highlights the dearth of talent in MLS.

Wright-Phillips is certainly unconcerned by this, though, continuing to notch the goals despite losing strike-partner Thierry Henry during the off-season. Six goals in the first 16 games of this campaign suggests that the one-time England senior hopeful is determined to finish outright top marksman this time out, to prove that he does have the ability to match all the early hype.


2. Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo)

Barnes, another one-time promising England youngster who failed to live up to his potential, has made the most of a fresh start in America. Now deployed in an advanced position behind the striker, the 26-year-old is thriving in the Texas heat.

Voted Houston's Most Valuable Player in 2014, Barnes found the net 11 times in total to help his side finish eighth in the end-of-season standings. Now under the watchful eye of former Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers boss Owen Coyle, Barnes is continuing to thrive as a forward.

A return to British shores may be on the cards one day soon, allowing the former Derby County man a chance to redeem himself slightly after failing to truly make his mark the first time around.


3. Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers)

He may still be in the early stages of his MLS career, but there is little denying that Ridgewell has already made a telling difference at Portland. In fact, despite only joining the club two months prior, the Englishman was drafted into the All-Star team to face Bayern Munich last year.

Having seen his image tarnished somewhat at West Bromwich Albion, a change of surroundings has clearly done Ridgewell the world of good if his performances to date are anything to go by.

The 30-year-old's experience in particular has helped Portland, using his passing ability to guide the Timbers up to third place in the Western Conference. A loan spell at Wigan Athletic earlier this year suggests that a return to his homeland is certainly a possibility, but right now Ridgewell is focused on his latest challenge in North America.


4. Nigel Reo-Coker (Montreal Impact)

One-time captain of England at Under-21s level, Reo-Coker is yet another of those who had to seek football abroad in order to revitalise his career. Spells at Vancouver Whitecaps and recently-folded Chivas USA paved the way for the experienced midfielder's move to latest club Montreal Impact, where he so very nearly made history earlier this year.

Defeat against Mexican club side America prevented Montreal from becoming the first MLS side to win the CONCACAF Champions League, with Reo-Coker captaining his side all the way to the showpiece final.

From London to Canada, via stints in the Midlands and East Anglia, the 31-year-old appears to now finally be at a settled club where he can continue his impressive showings. Reo-Coker certainly still has a few more years left in him, but the first Englishman to skipper a side at the new Wembley may not be returning home anytime soon.


5. Shaun Maloney (Colorado Rapids)

Maloney, one of 18 Scots plying their trade in the USA, turned down rumoured offers from an array of Championship clubs in order to push through a move to Colorado earlier this year. One goal and two assists to his name so far, it has been a decent enough start to life Stateside for the ex-Wigan Athletic winger.

Comments made earlier this year by Scotland assistant Mark McGhee, who dismissed the standard of the MLS by claiming that it was weaker than the Championship, led many to believe that Maloney would be overlooked for an international call-up ahead of last month's huge clash against the Republic of Ireland.

Four goals for the Tartan Army over the past 12 months - including a real belter against Ireland - go a long way to highlighting the undoubted quality that the 32-year-old still possesses. The Chicago attacker may have dented his hopes of regular international action, but it is a risk he is willing to take in order to challenge himself in a different surrounding in a league which is fast becoming a second home for British players.


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