Leaving Europe for Major League Soccer was an eye-catching move from Nicholas Gioacchini.
The eight-time United States international joined Orlando City on a free transfer earlier this month, bringing to an end a six-and-a-half-year stay in French soccer with Paris FC, Montpellier and Caen.
At just 22 years old, and with three goals across those eight USMNT caps, Gioacchini still has plenty of time on his side to develop and highlighted the ‘rise’ of MLS as one of the reasons for his return Stateside.
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“[Playing in MLS is] one of the parts I’m most excited about,” he said upon signing for the Lions. “Coming home, that feeling of coming back to my home country and getting the experience to play against the rising MLS and being a part of it. That’s a great feeling.”
Gioacchini’s decision was met with some criticism from sections of the USMNT fanbase, but Orlando’s executive vice president of soccer operations and general manager Luiz Muzzi has hit back claiming ‘Eurosnobs don’t know what they’re talking about’.
“I honestly think a lot of the young guys – there are so many good players, American players who end up going to Europe when they’re not ready to go. Then they get lost in the shuffle,” Muzzi told MLSsoccer.com.
“It’s something every young player in America should be thinking about and analyzing because sometimes you want to go to the top of the ladder and skip steps. Then when you fall it’s a much bigger fall. If you just take your steps as you should, you’re going to reach the top.
“I think MLS has proven, time and time again, that this is a great league and you play a great quality of soccer here. All the Eurosnobs out there, this is a great league. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Gioacchini registered a goal and an assist across three appearances during the USMNT’s successful Concacaf Gold Cup campaign last summer. His other five caps have come in friendlies, with the winger missing out entirely on World Cup qualifying.
But positions on Gregg Berhalter’s 2022 World Cup roster are still up for grabs. Muzzi believes returning to the United States and getting more games under his belt will give him a much better chance of traveling to Qatar than staying in France.
“It’s one of those where we’ve got a great player that maybe was not getting the proper attention abroad for whatever reason,” Muzzi added. “And he gets a chance to get closer to the national team, to the eyes of Gregg [Berhalter] and his staff. Niko is a really exciting young player and he needs to have more chances to show his game. … I think he’ll bring a lot to us and we’re able to bring a lot to him as well.”