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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 20:15 GMT
MLS set for UK invasion
By Andrew McKenzie

Carl Robinson
Robinson has swapped Norwich for North America
Wales midfielder Carl Robinson has predicted an influx of English players into Major League Soccer.

The 30-year-old Robinson left Norwich in January for Toronto, who play their first game in MLS when the new season gets under way on 7 April.

And the Welsh international told BBC Sport: "You might be surprised in the next few weeks. I think more and more English will come over now.

"I've had six or seven players asking if I will put in a word for them."

Interest in MLS increased in January when David Beckham announced he was leaving Real Madrid to play in America for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Other big name stars like Luis Figo and Ronaldo were rumoured to be joining the American soccer revolution, but so far the stars have yet to sign up.

But Robinson, who is in the Wales squad to face Republic of Ireland on Saturday, added: "There is plenty of talk over there of certain names and I think there will be another one or two big names who follow Beckham.

"Teams need to get their rosters made up in the next 10 days so there could be some movement before then.

"I know there are lots of players keen on going over. It is whether they can sort something out.

I think people will sit up and notice because the standard is very good

Carl Robinson

"The David Beckham factor obviously has played a part but there has been talk about players going over there for quite a while but no-one has taken the step.

"I've been close two or three times before but now it is the right move for me, having just turned 30."

Robinson's decision to leave the Canaries and fly across the pond to Toronto did not quite make the same headlines as Beckham's departure from the Bernabeu.

But it came as something of a surprise having finally looked settled at Norwich.

Carrow Road was Robinson's eighth stop in five years, including loan spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Walsall, Rotherham and Sheffield United.

But the former Wolves, Pompey and Sunderland midfielder is feeling at home in his new surroundings.

He said: "I'm really enjoying it, they are a good bunch of lads and I'm enjoying the way football is over there.

"It is much more focussed towards keeping the ball rather than the end-to-end hurly-burly of the Championship and that suits me down to the ground. It's more like international football.

"My first worry was what the standard would be like but I've been to the States and Canada on pre-season tours with Sunderland and both times we got thumped by teams below MLS level.

"I think people will be pleasantly surprised and I think they will sit up and notice because the standard is very good. It's a different type of football but a good standard."

Toronto's first game of the season takes them to Los Angeles to play the Chivas USA, who share the Home Depot Center with Beckham's LA Galaxy.

Beckham will not join up with the Galaxy until later in the season, but his impact is already being felt.

'FAMILIAR FACES
Toronto's roster includes:
Mo Johnston
(Head coach and ex-Scotland striker)
Jim Brennan
(Canadian international spent 12 years in England)
Ronnie O'Brien
(Dublin-born and once of Middlesbrough)
Toronto have already sold all 14,000 season tickets for their opening season in MLS.

"When David joined I thought it was brilliant," said Robinson.

"I had already agreed to go from Norwich in principle and when I saw he was going I was delighted as the media frenzy that comes with him is only going to boost the profile of the MLS.

"People have said he's going for the money but I don't think so - him and his family have more than enough.

"I think he just wants a change in his life and he'll get four or five good years there."

Robinson's own impact is already being felt in Toronto - as a talent scout.

Head coach Mo Johnston followed up on his recommendations by signing winger Andy Welsh from Sunderland.

"Mo was after a left winger so I mentioned Andy to him and he made some calls and asked me to speak with him," he said.

"Andy is a young lad so he is in a different situation. He wants to get back on to the football ladder.

"He had options to go on loan to a few Championship clubs but feels this move to Toronto is right for him. Maybe my words of persuasion helped.

"He's a super left winger and I'm delighted he's joining us."



SEE ALSO
Sunderland winger heading for MLS
19 Mar 07 |  Sunderland
Agent plays down Fowler US switch
28 Feb 07 |  Liverpool
Currie could join Beckham in USA
28 Feb 07 |  Ipswich Town
Chicago fail in move for Zidane
25 Jan 07 |  Football
Robinson completes Toronto move
01 Feb 07 |  Norwich City
Beckham agrees to LA Galaxy move
12 Jan 07 |  Football
MLS paves way for big-name buys
11 Nov 06 |  Football


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