John Foster with the latest on a busy time for Toronto FC...
Hours after Roma star Michael Bradley confirmed his move to Toronto FC, representatives from Major League Soccer have expressed their surprise and mild unease that all the best American footballers seem to be keen on joining their league.
Bradley, 26, joins other North America-based North American stars, including Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, in a reversal of the trend that has seen the best US players seek their fortune overseas in more competitive leagues.
Commissioner Don Garber welcomed Bradley to Major League Soccer with caution and bafflement.
“We’re truly delighted that Michael has chosen to leave AS Roma and sign for Toronto FC, the 16th-best team in the 19-team MLS,” said Garber. “I would like to offer my congratulations to Toronto, and to ask Michael if he’s completely sure he knows what he’s getting himself into.
“I mean, Toronto are a decent team with some perfectly nice players. But, Michael, your team-mates were Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, and Miralem Pjanic. What in the name of Christ made you think you’d be better off alongside Steven Caldwell?
“Because it can’t have been the city. I mean, Toronto is OK. Toronto is fine. But it’s not Rome, is it? Toronto has many qualities, but nobody would claim it’s been one of the greatest cities on Earth for over a thousand years, not even after a barrelful of Canadian Mist.
“Anyone who would reject La Città Eterna for ‘The City of Neighborhoods’ really needs to take a good hard look at themselves.”
Dempsey made waves in the summer when he left Tottenham Hotspur for the Seattle Sounders against the wishes of USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra, recently of Bayern Munich and Racing Santander respectively, have also committed themselves to their national leagues, decisions that Garber points out “make no sense to anyone with half a brain”.
“We always intended the MLS to be part finishing school for young homegrown talent, and part retirement village for over-the-hill journeymen who don’t fancy mixing it in the UAE,” Garber told FourFourTwo, holding up a picture of Jermain Defoe.
“So this whole situation has left us confused and dismayed. Is there something going on in Europe that we don’t know about?”
In response to questions from journalists, Garber agreed that Bradley’s transfer could be described as a strong statement, but only if that statement read: “I am an ambitionless moron.”