The New York Red Bulls recently sold defender Matt Miazga to Chelsea FC. It’s hard to blame him for making the switch to the European game.

By Gregg Cambareri

The news of Matt Miazga’s transfer to Chelsea FC left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of American soccer aficionados. While it’s a blow to the MLS, (the New York Red Bulls in particular) it’s a positive for the U.S. National Team. Miazga will have a chance to compete, improve, and grow in arguably the best league in the world, the Barclay’s Premier League. It’s that reason, amongst several others, that made his move to the European game so inevitable.

Miazga, 20, was arguably the Red Bull’s best defender and most promising young prospect. His loss will surely be felt by his hometown club, but when a European giant like Chelsea comes calling, it’s almost impossible to ignore the lure of the world’s top league.

The American game has improved greatly over the past decade or so, featuring in the group stages of the past two World Cups and offering positive results in friendlies against some of the world’s superpowers. However, it’s hard to compare the MLS to any of Europe’s power five leagues (England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy). Miazga’s move will only accelerate his growth, and makes the American youth system more attractive to other European giants.

Miazga will have the opportunity to get real playing time with Chelsea, given current centerback John Terry’s displeasure with the club, while Gary Cahill (30) isn’t getting any younger.

Theoretically, Chelsea could spend top dollar on one or more central defenders this summer, and loan Miazga elsewhere in Europe, but his experience abroad would still be better than playing back home. This isn’t a knock on the MLS (which is miles better than where it was a decade ago), but the European game offers competition the MLS simply cannot. There’s more to the talented New Jersey native’s departure, though…

Ah, money. The almighty dollar (or Euro) always plays a role in every transfer. Chelsea’s reported $5 million dollar fee was one of the largest for an American player. Miazga was entering the final year of his contract; playing him for one more season and watching him leave freely for Europe instead of accepting a record transfer fee would have been unwise. It is a business after all.

Think about the current U.S. National Team. How many of the regulars have played overseas? Tim Howard with Everton, Michael Bradley with A.S. Roma, Jozy Altidore with Sunderland, Clint Dempsey with Fulham and Tottenham; the list goes on. More players with U.S. citizenship are playing in some the world’s top leagues, and the competitiveness of the American game has grown simultaneously.

It’s obviously a tough pill for the Red Bulls and their supporters to swallow. However, the positive impact the transfer should have on Miazga’s professional career and the U.S. National Team’s development is too good to ignore.

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