Gareth Bale claimed the standard of football in Major League Soccer has risen in recent years after he and Giorgio Chiellini made their Los Angeles FC debut in a 2-1 win over Nashville SC.
Bale made his MLS bow as a 72nd-minute substitute in Tennessee, while Italy and Juventus legend Chiellini played the first hour of a victory that put LAFC one point clear at the Western Conference summit.
The Wales winger, who won five Champions League titles during a trophy-laden spell with Real Madrid before his contract expired in June, suggested last week that MLS was “not a retirement league”.
And Bale repeated that assertion after his maiden appearance, telling LAFC’s website:
“The standard of football, even just watching, had improved massively from when I used to watch it in the past and when I’ve played against an all-star team or played other teams in the past.
“The football’s good; I enjoyed being on there. I think the perception [of the league] is changing; many players came over and struggled and got a big wake-up call by it.
“I’ve spoken to other players about it, so I know the quality is improving. I haven’t come here to wind down; I want to contribute as much as possible to win games and trophies.”
Bale caught the eye during his first cameo with the 2019 Supporters’ Shield winners.
And admitted he had grown restless watching from the bench early on.
“It felt amazing; I was itching from the first half; as soon as I got on the bench, I wanted to get off and help the team,” he added. “[It’s] essential for me to get my fitness going. It’s the end of the season in Europe.
“It’s good to get some minutes, and more importantly, we got the three points, so everybody’s happy.
“I want to come in and do what I do but fit into the team’s style of play. It’s going to take a bit of time to get used to everything, but I’m quite switched on.”
Chiellini, meanwhile, highlighted the difficulties caused by the humid conditions in Nashville.
But was pleased to have passed his first test since departing Serie A.
The defender said:
“I expected the difficulties we had in the match because it is a good team and also for me especially, it’s my first match for almost two months, and it’s too hot in Nashville.
“But I was feeling better minute by minute. I’m thrilled because it was a difficult game, and we need to win.”
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