The arrival of Matt Crooks and the boost to Real Salt Lake in MLS

British reinforcement for the Salt Lake City team marks a new phase of ambition and competitiveness
Chelsea v Middlesbrough - Carabao Cup Semi Final Second Leg
Chelsea v Middlesbrough - Carabao Cup Semi Final Second Leg / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

Soccer in the United States is constantly evolving, and the recent acquisition of English midfielder Matt Crooks by Real Salt Lake is a clear sign of this progression. Crooks' arrival, coming from the English second division's Middlesbrough, not only strengthens RSL's squad but also symbolizes the growing attractiveness and competitiveness of Major League Soccer (MLS).

At 30 years old and with a solid career in the lower divisions of English soccer, Crooks brings with him a wealth of experience and skill that will undoubtedly elevate Real Salt Lake's level of play. His technical ability, vision, and leadership are characteristics that make him a valuable addition to the team, led by Pablo Ruiz, Braian Ojeda, and Diego Luna.

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Crooks' signing is not just a market move but also reflects a shift in mentality within Real Salt Lake and the MLS as a whole. Previously, it was rare to see renowned European players transition to American soccer during the most productive years of their careers. However, in recent years, this trend has gradually changed, with more international players choosing to make their mark in the MLS.

Matt Crooks, Levi Colwill
Chelsea v Middlesbrough - Carabao Cup Semi Final Second Leg / Nigel French/Allstar/GettyImages

The fact that Crooks has chosen to join Real Salt Lake at a time when the league is gearing up to host the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico is particularly significant. His decision suggests a growing recognition of the MLS as a competitive and attractive league capable of offering development opportunities and exposure to high-level players.

Furthermore, Crooks' arrival also highlights the growth potential of soccer in the United States. With the sport's popularity on the rise and an increasingly engaged audience, the MLS is solidifying its position as one of the top leagues in the world. The presence of talented and experienced players like Crooks only serves to strengthen this position and attract more attention to American soccer.

However, despite the progress made so far, there is still much to be done for the MLS to reach the same level of prestige and competitiveness as the top European leagues. Issues such as game quality, infrastructure, and youth talent development still need to be comprehensively addressed.

The signing of Matt Crooks by Real Salt Lake is a step in the right direction, but it is just one component of a broader effort to elevate American soccer to new heights of excellence. With an ambitious vision and a continued commitment to sport development at all levels, the MLS is on the right track to becoming a global powerhouse in the world of soccer.