Major League Soccer takes a lot of heat for being far behind its top-tier counterparts in Europe, and while some of that is warranted, the league is only 20 years old and it's kind weak to pick on it.
Let's be honest, we've all aired our fair share of complaints about the league in the past, but that doesn't make MLS any less my favorite league, regardless of whether or not Orlando City is playing in it.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Italy's national team manager, Antonio Conte, said his players must "pay the consequences" of deciding to move to MLS when talking about leaving Sebastian Giovinco and Andrea Pirlo off the team's EURO 2016 roster. It's just the perception of the league, fair or not.
Brazilian national team coach Carlos Dunga was the latest to call out the league, particularly in how the teams in MLS train compared to those in, say, Brazil, or some other top leagues around the world. When asked this week about Kaká's future with the national team after his most recent injury suffered in pre-Copa América training, Dunga responded by saying:
"Kaká is one of the reference points or trademarks of Brazilian soccer. He's been unfit the last two appearances, he had a lesion. Maybe it is because of the training of the Brazil team, the quality and intensity of the game maybe is different from what he's used to."
This is what you might be able to call a foot-in-mouth statement, mainly based on how dumb it is in assuming that MLS training sessions are silly little cake walks.
Orlando City responded to the comments made by Dunga, with Diogo Kotscho, the Lions' Vice President of Communications, a Brazilian himself, it could be noted, harshly firing back at the Brazilian coach, telling the Orlando Sentinel:
"It is very sad to see someone using prejudice to justify Kaká's injury. MLS is a very physical league and the work we do here and all over MLS with the players is referenced worldwide. Our training facility and professionals are world class.
"Brazil has five injured players in one week, players from many places. MLS has some weaknesses; Physical training for sure isn't in this list. He can't come to our city [and] disrespect professionals that he doesn't know without answer."
My favorite line from that quote is the "Brazil has five players injured in one week," and he's absolutely right -- all off those other players (Rafinha, Éderson, Ricardo Oliveira and Luiz Gustavo) do not play in MLS. So, by Dunga's words, the Bundesliga, La Liga, etc., must all be to blame for their injuries, and not the natural fact that people get hurt. A lot.
Listen, and here's the plain truth: Kaká is 34 years old, and he's already been hurt on two separate occasions this season, with different injuries each time. He's clearly hit that phase of his career where his body is starting to break down, and playing on turf in the Hellish heat of Florida doesn't do many favors, either.
Playing off of Diogo's point, MLS is a tough, physical league. I've seen Orlando City's training sessions before, and I can tell you that nothing about them is easy. At the same time, I've never seen the Brazilian national team train, but I assume they can't be doing much more.
Sports today are being played at the highest level possible, and the fact is that a lot of peoples' bodies simply can't handle the work load they're being put through now. It's not at all inexcusable that a soccer player 34 years of age is having problems staying healthy -- especially in a physically demanding league like MLS. You can't do everything you can to prevent injuries, but at the end of the day, athletes are always at risk and will never see a pulled hamstring or groin strain coming.
It's, like, science.
Do the timing of his injuries raise suspicion (Kaká's saw another stint with the national team, way back in September, also end in injury)? Yes, but I believe there's a lot more to blame than just MLS.
Which nowadays seems like a pretty easy target when you're a nation team coach with no good answers.