POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 16: David Bentley (L) of Tottenham Hotspur and Reneilwe Letsholonyane of Kaizer Chiefs in action during the 2011 Vodacom Challenge match between Kaizer Chiefs and Tottenham Hotspur from Peter Mokaba Stadium on July 16, 2011 in Polokwane, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivmabu/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Like most Spurs supporters, I was disappointed to learn that Tom Huddlestone has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a second ankle surgery. Huddlestone has been one of Tottenham's most key and underrated players the last five years, and his presence has certainly been missed this season.
Huddlestone has been put on a tough course back, as he has certainly been passed in the central midfield depth chart, as Luka Modric, Scott Parker, Sandro, and even young Jake Livermore have put up quality seasons. Form is going to be the key for Huddlestone: Modric and Parker will be coming off the Euros, Sandro in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying, and Livermore just might be pushing for a berth on the GB Olympic Squad. Huddlestone is in for a major challenge with only pre-season to regain his form against those player coming off top notch international football.
At the same time, two Spurs players are coming up in the news feeds of MLS fans. Simon Dawkins, coming off a run in 2011 with the San Jose Earthquakes, has been re-loaned to the Quakes, a sign of real solidarity in Tottenham Hotspur's club partnership with the Bay Area club. Obviously, Spurs think MLS is a level of quality high enough to continue to improve Dawkins' game, or at least a good place to put him in the shop window.
But most interesting comes in the news that David Bentley is strongly considering a loan to MLS. Despite English offers, Bentley seems most interested in coming to America this summer. His agent explains:
"This is something that is really interesting for David, as it will also get him fit through the summer," Rob Segal, told MLSsoccer.com. "He would like to go there on loan as soon as possible."
Immediately, when I heard of Huddlestone's injury, it made me think of Bentley and Dawkins. Presuming Huddlestone is fit before the summer, it seems clear that a MLS loan would be the best thing for the midfielder. The loan would give Huddlestone not only guaranteed playing time, but a chance to gain form against quality competition. With the depth Tottenham has at central midfield, Huddlestone could emerge from the MLS season in October in full form, ready to contribute for Spurs.
As Robbie Keane scores at will with Aston Villa and Landon Donovan reinvigorates Everton, it is clear that the myth that MLS is a low-quality "retirement league" is dying. The quality of play in MLS is rising, and Tottenham Hotspur seem interested in taking advantage of it.
MLS provides an amazing opportunity to Spurs with its unique schedule. By playing a season from March-November, MLS provides an opportunity for players looking for playing time that could not otherwise get it in the closed season of European football. Tottenham has created a strong bond it seems with not only San Jose Earthquakes, but MLS as a whole. And as Tottenham looks for what to do with both young players seeking to improve, injured players searching for form, and older players looking for playing time, they would be wise to continue utilizing this American route.