Olympique Lyonnais Remi Garde believes that Major League Soccer is of an excellent standard, and says that the quality of American sides is what prompted him to take his team on tour in the USA this summer.
The French giants are currently stepping up their pre-season preparations with a series of matches in North America, culminating in Saturday's Trophee des Champions clash with Montpellier in New Jersey.
Les Gones were held to a 1-1 draw by Montreal Impact, before winning on penalties, in one of their ties, and the former Arsenal midfielder says that he was expecting a tough challenge from the Canadians.
"The level of play was interesting," he told reporters after the French side won 4-2 on penalty kicks after drawing 1-1 with the Impact in normal time.
"I wasn't surprised in the fact that the team [Impact] has a rhythm indicative of a team that’s playing in league play already and with about 20 games under their belt.
"The athletic difference between the two teams closed the gap that one would expect between the two sides," he said. "I wasn't surprised.”
While it may seem like Garde was only impressed by the athletic conditioning of his opponents, he explained that the overall standard of soccer in MLS is on an upward curve.
"I think the level of [North] American soccer, just like the U.S. national team, is progressing well," he mused. "We saw that tonight.”
Lyon continues its preseason tour on Saturday with the Trophee des Champions against Montpellier at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
Nick Sabetti contributed additional reporting from Montreal.