Landon Donovan believes that the first-season struggles of both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard reflect the difficulty of adapting to life in Major League Soccer.
"They've been perceived [to have played] well but it's not easy," Donovan, the former USA forward who retired in 2014 after winning his fourth MLS Cup with LA Galaxy, told ESPN FC on Wednesday. "Sometimes I think people have this impression that you can go there and it will be easy."
Both Englishmen made premature returns to England. Gerrard's Galaxy team exited in the first round of the playoffs while Lampard's New York City FC did not qualify for the postseason.
"The players will tell you, and I think Steven spoke about this openly, that it's very difficult," said Donovan. "Not because there's more quality than at Liverpool but it's difficult to travel and obviously the game is fast.
"The Premier League's the fastest in the world but the pace is probably faster than you realise. There's heat, there's a lot of different issues. But I think both of them will come back next year and play much better than that.
Donovan said the influx of the English pair, along with names like Andrea Pirlo and David Villa at NYCFC and Kaka at Orlando City show how far the league has come since David Beckham joined the Galaxy in 2007.
"When David came, there was this big 'wow,'" said Donovan, then a teammate of Beckham. "And now the good thing is that apart from the young players getting excited it's also becoming more normal, more regular.
"That's good because they don't now walk into the locker room and everyone's saying 'oh my god.' Now it's 'we've got another great player.' That's where it's evolved and what we want to keep up."
Patrick Vieira's appointment as the new head coach of NYCFC further confirms the growing pull of the United States in the football world, suggested Donovan. The French World Cup winner was previously reserve team and Elite Development squad manager at sister club Manchester City.
"A lot of guys want a chance, I think, to go and coach," said Donovan. "They know that the resources are now there, and they'll have support. They can walk outside without people hounding them, there's no paparazzi, so they enjoy that aspect. And they want to go and help out. I think because there haven't been a lot of foreign managers who have done well, the hope is that Patrick does well and continues to open the door."
Donovan added: "I think if he surrounds himself with people who can help him adapt and adjust to the rules, I think he'll do fantastic. A lot of foreign managers have not done well in Major League Soccer because it's not easy. There's a lot of restrictions so if you want to go and buy three players, you can't just go and buy three players."
With league expansion having added new franchises in NYCFC and Orlando City in 2015, and Atlanta set for 2017 plus Los Angeles in 2018, and Beckham trying to pull together a deal to set up a team in Miami, Donovan said that he had first-hand experience of the interest that MLS is now attracting.
"I get emails from billionaire businessmen who now want to get involved because they see there is still, relatively speaking, a ground floor," he said. "If you look at franchising values of sports teams in America, they sky-rocket quickly. So Major League Soccer is still relatively cheap to get into. They see it's a possibility to not only have a good business venture but to continue to help build something really special."
Donovan, who played for a Rest of the World XI team in a charity match arranged by Beckham at Old Trafford last Saturday, is now considering his own next move, as he approaches a year out of the game.
"Probably," he said, when asked if he was eyeing coaching as his next career. "If the right opportunity came along, I would consider it. But I won't be banging on people's doors begging for a coaching job. I am happy with my life right now. If the right opportunity comes along, then I would do it."