Europe or MLS?

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

The European transfer window opened Jan. 1, but thus far there has been very little movement.

And that's good news for Major League Soccer.

Many predicted January to be a disastrous month for MLS, with many of its marquee players looking for big-money moves abroad.

With the quality of soccer and MLS players continually improving, more and more interested eyes are cast towards North America by European clubs looking for some bang for their buck.

MLS already lost one of its best young players in defender Michael Parkhurst last month. He took his EU passport to Denmark, signing with FC Nordsjaelland.

On the surface, a move to a no-name team in Denmark hardly screams prestigious move.

Parkhurst is hoping the exposure he gets in Denmark and the fact he carries an EU passport can lead him to a bigger European club.

Regardless, if the move vaults him to bigger and better things or not, short-term Parkhurst still benefits.

As Cuba Gooding Jr. so famously coined in Jerry Maguire: "Show me the money!"

Simply put, more money can be made across the Atlantic.

But the monetary benefit shouldn't be the only concern when players contemplate a move abroad. Opportunity needs to be balanced with income.

Toronto FC midfielder Rohan Ricketts did the opposite of what the typical North American soccer player dreams of doing. Born and raised in the UK, Ricketts started his career there, and then came to North American to kick-start his career. Having experienced playing on both sides of the Atlantic, Ricketts understands why North American players desire the true European experience.

"I think that it's good that players want to go and test themselves against other players across Europe. Most players try to make the switch because of both money and ambition," Ricketts said. "As much as we love our sport, we cannot forget it's our job, so financial security is a priority as in every working case."

In saying that, Ricketts could have made more money staying in England.

But he saw the big picture. Instead of trying to rebuild his career in a lower division, or not being guaranteed first-team opportunities with a Premiership side, Toronto was a better option. It provided opportunity.

The chance to play first-team football for a club wanting to build something special in a vibrant city was too hard to turn down.

Ricketts is making the most of his stay, on and off the field, becoming a key contributor to the side, while immersing himself within the community. He is running soccer camps throughout the GTA at the end of the month, with part of the proceeds being donated to Sick Kids Hospital. For more information, email clinics@rohanricketts.com.

Ricketts made a personal decision and it has paid off. On the flip side, following the money and perceived opportunity overseas isn't always a good idea.

Take former TFC midfielder Maurice Edu as an example. Edu's transition from his summer move to Rangers of the Scottish Premier League (SPL) has been a struggle. The 22-year-old has made only one appearance for the side, playing a grand total of 64 minutes. This is a time in Edu's career he needs to be playing and developing. This is tough to do exclusively in training.

And to be fair, the SPL hardly can be considered a top European league any more. So where does Edu's future stand? Rangers still say he's part of their future, but there are no guarantees.

A player such as Edu always will have opportunities back in MLS if his European adventure doesn't work out, but right now, it's hard to believe he wouldn't be better off getting first-team opportunities in the MLS or elsewhere.


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