The arrival of Lionel Messi into the MLS will drive unprecedented levels of interest in the US soccer league, but as hype around the Argentine hero spreads across the country is the league at risk of overshadowing its own homegrown stars?
Interest in Inter Miami is already high, thanks to the combination of owner David Beckham and their underwhelming form since their first season in 2020.
The eyes of the world will continue to look upon the club as the Messi roadshow gets underway, but just as the introduction of foreign players into the English Premier League has often threatened to take the limelight (as well as precious playing time) away from young English talent eager to make a name for themselves, the same could be true of emerging players in the US.
Take Peyton Miller as an example.
Who is Peyton Miller?
The Connecticut-born defensive-midfielder has become the youngest player in New England Revolution history to sign a contract with the club after putting pen to paper on a four-year deal in June.
He’s a highly promising talent, and after joining Revolution’s academy in 2021, he became the youngest player to appear for the club’s reserve team, Revolution II, earlier in the season. He’s gone on to make 11 appearances for the team and provide two assists in the MLS’s youth league, MLS NEXT, since then in what’s been a highly successful campaign for the youngster.
In line with the terms of his contract, Miller won’t make the leap to the senior team just yet. Instead, he’ll stay with Revolution II in MLS Next for the rest of the 2023 season and will then be able to make the leap up to the MLS proper in time for the 2024 campaign.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to sign my first professional contract with the New England Revolution, and I want to thank Bruce Arena, Curt Onalfo, Clint Peay, Marcelo Santos, BJ Noble, and Rob Becerra for their confidence in me throughout my time here,” said Miller.
“Taking this next step in my development is a dream come true and I appreciate my family and all of the coaches for the guidance and support that helped make this possible.”
The Revs have a history of seeking out young talent, having signed Diego Fagúndez at the age of 15 years and 274 days back in 2010. He debuted for the club the following year, aged 16 years and 173 days and scored 53 goals in 261 appearances for the club before joining Austin FC in 2021.
With MLS NEXT providing a clear pathway from youthful promise to pro success, Miller certainly won’t be the last shining example of homegrown talent to make their way through the American system.
But if the country wants to build on that and keep delivering the kind of success the national team enjoyed at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, they’ll need to make sure as much focus is given to the Millers of the world as it is to the Messis.