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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

MLS will be one of best leagues - New York City FC chief Claudio Reyna

Claudio Reyna was appointed New York City FC sporting director.

New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna has told The Times he expects MLS to be "one of the main leagues in the world in a decade."

The 21st edition of MLS will get under way on Sunday as interest in the competition continues to increase, with LA Galaxy boasting former England captain Steven Gerrard and New York City FC having Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo in their squad.

Reyna, who made 112 appearances for United States before taking up his role at New York City FC in 2013, is encouraged by the league's progress and is predicting stars who are in their prime to make the move across the Atlantic in the future.

The former Manchester City midfielder said: "We hope soon we will be able to attract better players at 26, 27. Maybe not the elite but that good second tier but, especially being an American, I'll think we've made it as a league when we start developing our own players, a higher volume of real quality.

"In my eyes, there's no stopping it now. Looking at the growth, the MLS will be very different again in five years. At this rate, it will be one of the main leagues in the world in a decade. It's certainly heading in that direction."

He added: "When I grew up it was difficult to catch a game on any TV station. Maybe the FA Cup final, a couple of Serie A matches. Now it feels mainstream. It's not just the hard core, immigrant population who want their soccer.

"These days, a soccer player here isn't the weird kid like I was. Now there's soccer in schools and kids running around proud of their jerseys.

"[Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Lionel] Messi, Neymar roll off the tongues of any fan. It's on the main sports channels continuously. Add the female interest and it's amazing to be on this wave of growth.

"For the MLS, it's all helped with a huge turn in credibility, globally and domestically. And while the league has been going for a while, I think it has really taken off in the last two, three years."

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