The big hoopla about bringing David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco to the MLS was to raise its profile by changing the perception that it is at best, a retirement league.
The other way to dispel this notion is to become an incubator of young talent. Nothing can be more satisfying than a homegrown talent such as Altidore being approached by major European clubs because of his impressive development as a player. Of course, the question is not if, it is when? When would be a good time to leave? There are those including Ivan Galarcep who feel that Altidore benefits from staying on to mature as a player.
My contention is if Freddy Adu is reaping the benefits playing for Benfica after spending some very indifferent seasons at the MLS then I can assure you that Altidore has very little to learn hanging out with Juan Pablo Angel and the NY Red Bulls even for another season. If rumours are right, then Real should be his next stop and the sooner the better. He will have much more to learn from Bernd Schuster and Ruud Van Nistelrooy even though his playing time might be limited initially.
Ryan Nelsen, a central figure in Blackburn's resurgence in the Premiership and Clint Dempsey, one of the bright sparks in the Fulham attack spent a number of seasons in the MLS. Their success overseas in the big European leagues have made recruiters more eager to take a chance earlier in the development of talented MLS players. Altidore has all the building blocks in place for a manager like Bernd Schuster whose player development credentials are impeccable, to hone his skills. Schuster has taken Marcelo, the talented 19 year old Brazilian midfielder under his wing giving him more playing minutes and with talents like Drenthe, Gago, and Gonzalo Higuain already playing regularly, Real seems to be finally divesting itself of its laborious Galacticos image nurtured under the Florentino Perez era.
With increasing familiarity about the time spent developing in big clubs, MLS players are also becoming savvy figuring out whether they will get serious playing minutes. And Altidore seems to have his head on his shoulders.
"That's the way I see it now," Altidore said. "The quicker you can get there, the better. Even if it starts off tough, you can always adjust to it, especially if it's a team that needs you. It's all about timing."
So go forth Jozy Altidore and follow your dreams. Don't waste another season with the NY Red Bulls.