Why Major League Soccer is looking to Sweden for a boom in quality

Why Major League Soccer is looking to Sweden for a boom in quality

DURING THE LATE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY, 1.3 million Swedes set off for the United States, leaving northern Europe’s largest country in order to start a new life. Such was the volume of the exodus that a commission was set up in Sweden in 1907 in order to try keep some of the countries brightest minds and attempt to establish the best of America in Sweden.

Since this periodm there has always been an important link between the United States and Sweden. There is a special connection with a number of Swedish-Americans making names like Hedlund, Wahlberg Olson and Nilsson a normal feature of culture in the United States.

In the sporting world, it is very common to see Swedes succeed in Ice Hockey’s SHL before flying off to the bright lights of the NHL and representing Sweden on the global stage. Henrik Lundqvist has been a star for the New York Rangers for over a decade while Filip Forsberg has become one of the best young players in the NHL.

There have, in the past, also been Swedish footballers to take the gamble and move over to the NHL. These early pioneers were taking a far bigger risk than checking out any online casino. Notable names have included 1994 World Cup star Thomas Ravelli and one-time Arsenal star Anders Limpar. However, a move from Allsvenskan to Major League Soccer remains rare.

A recent managerial appointment seems set to change this after Mikael Stahre was brought in as the boss of San Jose Earthquakes. There is now a new generation of Swedish talent ready to spread their wings and consider destinations they had no, in the past thought about, and MLS looks ready to benefit from this.

Despite being only 42 years old, Stahre has already had quite the managerial career. He began at the age of 32 taking over Vasby United who, after going through a number of name changes, are now known as AFC Eskilstuna. After doing a great job there he was given a chance at one of Sweden’s biggest clubs, AIK, who he led to the rare feat of a league and cup double.

Stahre then decided to go abroad, spending time in Greece before returning to another of Sweden’s largest clubs in IFK Gothenburg, who he steered to the Swedish Cup title. After another spell away, this time in China, he came back to Gothenburg to Hacken who he was a whisker away from taking to Europe, and convinced San Jose to bring him to the States. One of his first signings was Swedish player Joel Qwiberg from recently promoted IF Brommapojkarna. 

More Swedes have followed with Anton Tinnerholm, honoured as 2017’s best defender in Allsvenskan, moving to New York City, Gabriel Somi coming from Arsenal’s Europa League opponents Ostersund to New England, and the league’s top scorer, Magnus Eriksson, is set to move to San Jose to join Stahre. It seems that this is the start of something and that MLS clubs are seeing Sweden as fertile soil to pick up new players. Whether they succeed is anyone’s guess, but it will be great to watch.

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