Since the creation of the DP slots, my impression is that, for many obvious reasons (high goal scoring, higher profiles) MLS teams have generally focused on obtaining international strikers and attacking mids, not defenders. Without conducting an exhaustive survey, those that come to mind are Beckham, Angel, Wanchope, Blanco, Barros-Schletto, Emilio, Fred, Pavon, and Dichio. The only arguably quality defender that has been acquired is Xavier, who is undoubtedly well past his prime and, even when on the field, makes little impact on LA's fortunes. The result is that, while the exciting goals are coming (witness 5-4 goalfest at NY on Saturday), the poor quality of defending in the MLS is made more starkly apparent. The gap in quality between MLS and top flight leagues is most clear when you watch an MLS and EPL game on the same day. In the Premiership, generally speaking, no one receives the ball in the attacking 2/3 of the field without being instantly challenged or holding off one or more players. For this reason, players are forced the think about what they will do with the ball before receiving it. They are forced to constantly move off the ball. They are forced to make one-touch passes and keep close control. You rarely have the kind of breakaways that EJ and Donovan get in the EPL because anytime someone get the ball where there is danger of a breakaway, a defender instantly puts them on the pitch, yellow card be damned. It is these instincts that Beckam brings to the game that are even more important than his bending free kicks. In contrast, defenders (and I mean anyone on the defending team, not just the back line) in the MLS often can be seen loping around the field, only getting in position after the ball is received and rarely make the well-timed tackle to breakup an impending break-away. The reasons for this I can only guess at, but if you ask me there are several. First, it comes from the coaching. It does not take Brazilian skill to constantly pressure the ball, but only fitness and discipline. These two things come from a coach that instills them in his players. MLS coaches should be telling their players to put high pressure on the ball from kick-off to final whistle. But it also comes from not having role models. We need more people like Beckham that understand what quality defending means. You must pressure the ball at all times. People should have inches, not feet, between themselves and the man they are marking. In order to create the expectation of this kind of high-pressure defense, which ultimately forces better soccer out of every player on the field, we need to be putting our DP slots towards more central defenders and defensive-minded midfielders. Until this aspect of the MLS game is addressed, it will always remain a level below what is being produced across the pond.