In the last few years, Italian players have always been protagonists in MLS.
From the MLS Cup won by Giovinco with Toronto, the experience of Andrea Pirlo at NYCFC, the MLSSoccerItalia.com’s friend Paolo Tornaghi between Chicago and Vancouver, the “goalkeeper of the year” Vito Mannone with Minnesota, Antonio Nocerino with Orlando and Mancosu with Montreal.
Those players decided to join MLS for different reasons, in a period where American soccer is growing faster, after years where only players at the end of their career wanted to play overseas like Nesta, Corradi and Di Vaio in Montreal.
Previously, there were players who decided to started this new soccer era in 1996, after the World Cup in 1994 and when MLS was just started. We are talking about Walter Zenga, Roberto Donadoni, Caricola and Giuseppe Galderisi. The latter, ex forward of Juventus, Verona and Milan, recently spoke up about his years in MLS, in 1996 and 1997, during the live streaming on Twitch with Calciomercato.com.
Galderisi mentioned those moments between New England Revolution and Tampa Bay Mutiny at the dawn of soccer: “Amazing experience. I was still young, 32 years old, full of strengths and in the middle of my career. It has been a great experience, thanks to Alexi Lalas that played with me at Padova. One night he called me: “MLS restarts after a lot of years in March. Do you want to come with me?”. It was ‘96 before December and he was the front man. I made the best decision ever”.
This decision led him to become a player of New England Revolution with his previous teammate at Padova, Alexi Lalas: “I lived in Boston, played for New England Revolution, but things weren’t going the right way. Then I moved to Tampa Bay. It was perfect and the weather unbelievable. It was like moving from Torino to Catania, two different worlds. I had a lot of fun there. The team was also very good: Thomas Rongen as a coach, that now is a showman, and then there was Carlos Valderrama”.
The Colombian is a champion and an icon all over the world, for his talent first but also for the unique haircut that made him famous during the USA World Cup in 1994. “Every time I was watching him playing from Italy I was thinking ‘he’s too slow’. And that was true, but every time he was playing behind me and Roy Lassiter, that moved to Genoa later, provided plenty of assists. When playing, I was always looking for the yellow’s head, passed him the ball and moving consequently. Every time the ball arrived my way perfectly. There was also Steve Ralston, one of the greatest players in the US during that time. We lost against DC United in the semifinal. However, it has been a unique experience, a completely different culture and I also thought to get a green card. Then with Zenga I started my career as a coach: he was the coach-player, and I was the assistant. That’s how I started.”
Original article in italian, translated in english by Alberto Pagrazzi