Big-name MLS players face pressure to deliver in 2016

Fri Mar 4, 2016 4:33pm EST
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By Simon Evans

(Reuters) - Major League Soccer's highly-skilled big-name players who command the top salaries are under pressure to deliver results in the upcoming 2016 season after failing to provide success for their teams last year.

LA Galaxy's Steven Gerrard and New York City FC's Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard were among the high-profile players who were supposed to lift their clubs to new levels but the big salaries did not bring in the silverware.

The Galaxy, who started last season having won three of the previous four MLS Cups, finished fifth in the 10-team Western Conference and exited the playoffs in the first round while NYFC's debut campaign could not have gone much worse.

The Galaxy have retooled their roster ahead of the 2016 season, which starts on Sunday, in an effort to supplement former Liverpool and England midfielder Gerrard.

Former England full back Ashley Cole and Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong bring in some veteran quality to the Galaxy side along with Belgian international defender Jelle Van Damme.

At NYCFC, former Barcelona and Spain striker David Villa was a big-money success but when Lampard and Italy midfielder Pirlo arrived midway through the season the team were unable to find their form and did not threaten to make the playoffs.

Highly-rated young American coach Jason Kreis paid the price for the disappointing season and has been replaced by French World Cup winner Patrick Vieira.

One well-known European player on record-breaking money who was a success last year was reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Sebastian Giovinco at Toronto FC.   Continued...

Italian international soccer player Andrea Pirlo is introduced as New York City FC's third Designed Player, at an event in New York, July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar