Michael Bradley Toronto FC Bound via sources

Is America’s ultimate prodigal son returning?

On Tuesday, a source intimated to me that Michael Bradley was headed out of Roma.

On Wednesday the news became cataclysmic. Bradley, according to ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, was headed to MLS’s Toronto FC–no doubt, inferred, through the work of former AEG frontman Tim Leiweke. Alexi Lalas later confirmed the report that Twellman was going to be Red.

Now, an official announcement awaits?

52 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mbw on 2014/01/08 at 2:23 PM

    I realize this is not the central aspect of this story, but WTF are Toronto doing wasting all that money — maybe worse, the DP slot — on Jermain Defoe? Keep Laba so you have a good #6 to pair with Bradley, play Dike with Gilberto, and invest in a real center half….


  2. *IF* this is true, I am surprised that Bradley is going to Toronto and not a big market MLS team in the US to capitalise on his [inflated] domestic status.

    I understand him leaving Roma because of lack of playing time, but not Serie A or Europe – unless he and his family are leaving for personal, non-football reasons.


    • Posted by JW on 2014/01/08 at 4:35 PM

      There could be some elements to this that have to do with family. I think Dempsey mentioned he wanted to raise his kids in the US or that he just missed it here when he transferred.

      I know this feels a little like a gut punch for so many since we had an American playing on a high profile team, but if it does happen, I chalk it up to growin pains. I know we are the “want it now generation” but things are changing here in the states. Where I live in Seattle, we have a massive adult-rec league system. As well, the attendance at Sounder games (with so many kids in the stands) is creating a generation of soccer fans. As parents get smarter about the game, the coaching gets better. It’s not just “little Johnny’s dad who watches football but his sons team needs a coach” anymore. Your getting parents that actually play as well as more opportunities for higher level coaching with select teams.

      Point is, one of these kids will grow up with a combination of raw talent and better coaching from the age of 5 or 6.

      At some point we will have a superstar outfield player in their early twenties that I hope will be a lock starter on a top 4 team.


      • Posted by Andrew M on 2014/01/09 at 12:05 AM

        The beauty of what’s happening is that if MLS keeps this up that “top 4 team” could be in a North American city one day.

        I quit trying to make excuses for MLS to my friends that refuse to watch a game on there own continent, when i realized that they really cared more about fitting in with the international community by ragging on MLS rather than investing in American soccer.

        I really like this move for the league.


        • Andrew M.

          A fan should be able to support their local soccer team ( MLS, NASL, USL or whatever) and still be able to be a fan or at least enjoy of the best teams in the sport, i.e. the ones who are regular contenders to win the Champion’s League.
          MLS has many unwatchable games but that is true of just about every league out there. People who look down on MLS fans for supporting an “inferior” product don’t understand the nature of being fan. Being a huge fan of Sofia Vergara does not mean you have to leave your domestic partner.

          I know many people who are big fans of their local college basketball or college football team because they know the players, the coach, the program, the school, etc. really well. And a lot of those teams are not contenders for their respective national championships. Nor are they as good at their sports as their equivalent professional counterparts.

          If “real” fans only supported the teams that were the very best at their sports, then most pro sports leagues in the world would collapse.

          As a fan of the USMNT since before 1990 one could be sure that it was the one soccer team you could actually support and follow down over the years that would not fold or move to another city.

          Most of you probably are not familiar with a time when the sports media would not have any soccer news but they might actually carry something about the USMNT and their players.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2014/01/08 at 5:46 PM

      If the rumors are true, his motivation could simply be money.


      • ” his motivation could simply be money”

        Or it could be something else entirely, or a combination of things. How will we ever know?

        Funny how that works, huh?


        • Posted by Paul on 2014/01/08 at 6:56 PM

          Guys, let’s give Bradley and soccer reporters time to clarify what motivated the transfer. Money is the least of Bradley’s worries. He’s a professional who could get roughly the same amount of money playing in various leagues around the world. We do not know if this is a long term deal, or if the deal falls apart overnight, or if another European club swoops in overnight to nab him from TFC. Too many details are left unanswered to make a definitive call about why Bradley is going to TFC (at this point in time).

          However, it is silly to think this is simply about money. Think of the club opportunities Bradley leaves. Roma’s crowded in the midfield, but Bradley has still seen decent minutes, despite being injured, and Bradley’s future looks decent with De Rossi entering his twilight.

          We also know Bradley is a fierce competitor and wanted to continue playing for the best teams in Europe. And I am fairly sure Klinsmann knew something about this and probably communicated today with his star midfielder concerning club preparations before the World Cup.

          Fiercely competitive player plus fiercely competitive coach makes the “all about the Benjamins” hypothesis rather improbable. Yes, you or I might jump at the money, but not if we are Michael Bradley, who has his own ambitions, along with the ambitions of his national team coach, to live up to.


          • Posted by Kevin_H on 2014/01/10 at 11:46 AM

            Money plays more of a factor than you may think, especially since the figure is what – 3x his current salary? No other teams came knocking at Bradley’s door with that incentive.

            It also speaks to the valuation at which European teams view Bradley. Klinsmann thinks American players are not in demand, and need to perform on the world stage to change international attitudes.


            • You’re also forgetting the fact that no other MLS team besides maybe Seattle has shown any willingness to pay a transfer fee, which is what is required to get Bradley, much less the two transfer fees that TO is paying which is somewhere in the neighborhood of over 20 million dollars for two players.

    • Posted by Jim on 2014/01/09 at 1:27 PM

      Sir, I take issue with your comment for two reasons. Firstly, I doubt that there is a universally inflated view of Michael Bradley in the U.S. I think the vast majority of USMNT supporters hold him in pretty high esteem based on his value to the U.S. squad, but I am highly skeptical that any but perhaps a small minority hold an “inflated” view of his talents. It was only a couple of years ago when most voices screamed nepotism without really looking at what he produced on the field. The second issue is that you imply that a high view of Bradley is unwarranted. Perhaps this would be true if large factions compared him to Xavi or Pirlo, but I don’t know of anyone doing that. It’s a bit of a touchy subject for me, so I don’t mean to come across as going off half-cocked. I played at a relatively high level and it used to bug me to have to hear talking heads talk about fellow players as garbage when they could hardly keep a ball on their foot. That said, I’ve watched Bradley since he was a teenager and he’s developed into a baller. The touch, pace, and range of his passing are unsurpassed right now in the states and he’s still got that crazy engine that used to be his whole game. I don’t think there’s another player who consistently influences U.S. matches right now. Anyhow, Toronto may have gotten a better deal if they purchased De Rossi at the same price…


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2014/01/10 at 9:00 AM

        Bradley 2012-2014 is a *much* better player that Bradley 2008-2010. Some of those early, snide ‘nepotism’ remarks were justified IMHO – he was not playing club football regularly, and was clearly rusty / lack match sharpness -but was still in the team. How did the ‘MB90’ nickname come about?. That really changed when he got regular minutes at Chievo, and as he got more playing time, he grew, and became a better player, those ‘nepotism’ comments were out-dated, redundant and lazy.

        That is a particularly big gripe of mine – any criticism / praise made at a certain point in time, is just that – it does not mean that is is permanent. The only constant is change, Sir.


        • Posted by Ufficio on 2014/01/10 at 12:13 PM

          Some of those early, snide ‘nepotism’ remarks were justified IMHO – he was not playing club football regularly, and was clearly rusty / lack match sharpness -but was still in the team.

          When was this, exactly?

          That really changed when he got regular minutes at Chievo, and as he got more playing time, he grew, and became a better player, those ‘nepotism’ comments were out-dated, redundant and lazy.

          Not least because his father was no longer the manager.


          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2014/01/10 at 1:22 PM

            Towards the end of his time at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Then the disastrous loan spell at Aston Villa.


            • Posted by Ufficio on 2014/01/10 at 6:57 PM

              It’s kind of odd to describe that as “early”; we’re talking the last sixth months of the B. Bradley era, here.

              Regardless, the nepotism charges from that period are absurd. Bradley had established himself as a first-choice starter throughout WC qualifying, a Confed cup and the WC itself, all while starting in a league which would virtually guarantee any non-keeper American a starting spot in the national team.

              M. Bradley earned that starting job. If you think starting while having an unsettled club situation was a special perk for the coach’s son, look at Altidore winning a starting job after playing basically no club ball for an entire year.

              As an aside: given the profit that Roma turned on Bradley, that loan spell looks more disastrous for Villa than for him, no?

  3. WOW! It just doesn’t add up. Jurgen is going to be pissed!


  4. I hate to say it but it looks like $ over country. Although, Landon has done so much for USA at Galaxy. Roma is so great, Toronto?


    • Posted by AC on 2014/01/09 at 6:39 AM

      Money over country?! Yes, he’s going to get paid, and have security unmatched by any other scenario for him. Who wouldnt want that for their family? Roma is ok, but he is clearly not in their plans, so its time to move.

      I for one am of the mindset that better MLS = better USMNT. Klinsi has told his players to test themselves in Europe in order to increase their USMNT status. How is that working out for guys like Ream, Shea, Edu (who I know was before Klinsmann), and many others. Yes Bradley is different and could go a number of places, but that just goes back to my earlier points. The US was floundering until we started to bring in solid MLS talent like Gonzales, Bessler, Zusi, etc that have now made solid claim to starting spots, and these guys have a commitment to the domestic game that should excite fans, not scare them.

      And lastly, Bradley is a great player and that is not going to change. The world is aware of that and if he chooses to come to MLS, that makes one hell of a statement seeing as how he could have gone to just about any league in Europe. This is his job and hes damn good at it. He doesn’t “owe” us anything as fans by becoming the first US world star, or something silly like that, because its his career, his life, his decision.

      (This incoherent rant isn’t directed all at your comment, as yours is actually one of the most reasonable I’ve read, it just opened the gates to my frustrations with people’s reactions)


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2014/01/09 at 7:13 AM

      Yes, Roma is great. But sitting on some Roman bench, no matter how hand-crafted, is not…


    • Posted by the original jb on 2014/01/09 at 8:41 AM

      That’s a naive statement. If he was getting just under $1 million at Rome and was offered over $6 mil to come to Toronto (as is being reported), then he simply can’t say no. And I don’t think another Euro club is going to offer that much. If he was my kid or brother I would tell him to take the offer and you’re a fool not to. Good for him.

      And for my part, I don’t think it negatively affects his play for this summer’s WC. And by the way, suddenly MLS is getting some big signings that will presumably increase quality of play. Long term, this may be more beneficial for USA soccer than him playing sporadically for Roma.


  5. Posted by Eric on 2014/01/09 at 6:47 AM

    Based on what I’ve seen, it looks like Michael was earning much less than I would have expected at Roma. I think I saw a couple reporters say that he was earning a little less than 1 million/year. If that’s true, he’s earning less than I would have thought, especially considering that it’s probably the highest paying contract that he’s earned throughout his career given the club he’s at…

    If that’s the case, I can’t say I blame him for jumping at the chance to earn 5-6 times his current salary given how it seems like (in my mind) he’s been very undervalued. Given that he and his wife fairly recently had a child, I don’t blame him at all for jumping at the chance to secure some very nice financial stability for his family for the foreseeable future.

    Whether this benefits the national team is up for debate, but I can’t say I blame Bradley by any means. He got offered a good deal and took it. Would any of us really say we would do differently?


  6. Posted by cps on 2014/01/09 at 7:20 AM

    I’m fine with this. 1. MB gets his paycheck, presumably a better situation for his family, and minutes of the field. 2. MLS benefits in terms of quality of play, appeal to fans, and future recruiting. 3. Will this move diminish the USMNT’s chances of winning WC games? Of course not. It bothers me that many Americans don’t want to see our domestic league improve.


    • Posted by Eric on 2014/01/09 at 7:31 AM

      I don’t think there are Americans who don’t want to see MLS improve. With instances like this, I think it more often comes down to many of them projecting their own ambitions onto USMNT players. The money factor and family situation doesn’t matter to them because they don’t see the money and it doesn’t affect their family. Instead, they’re more concerned with USMNT players raising the profile of American soccer abroad, and that means yearning for these players to continually try and move to better clubs and succeed.

      I think as a whole, American soccer fans suffer from an inferiority complex with Europe and when a player in his prime leaves a top level European club to return to MLS, it only adds to that. It makes some of them feel like the American player wimped out or that it proves to Europe that our players aren’t good enough.


      • Posted by cps on 2014/01/09 at 8:22 AM

        “American soccer fans suffer from an inferiority complex with Europe and when a player in his prime leaves a top level European club to return to MLS, it only adds to that. It makes some of them feel like the American player wimped out or that it proves to Europe that our players aren’t good enough.” I hear you. And that’s the sentement that bothers me so much (and one that I’m sure I used to espouse). A great player in his prime choosing MLS should be celebrated by Americans. It makes for a troubling juxtaposition, the fervent patriotism and support we show for the USMNT and our tepid, shame-filled regard for our top domestic league.


  7. Posted by Crow on 2014/01/09 at 11:23 AM

    What I want to know is what dirkanovich thinks?


    • Posted by Freegle on 2014/01/10 at 1:13 PM

      Ha! He thinks something completely outrageous an tangentially related to this topic but without any value to the conversation.


    • Crow,
      He posts under his name at a number of other sites. It has to be him. I mean who else would use that handle?


      • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2014/01/11 at 10:25 AM

        Guys- this is the Goal.com stuff that brings the general discourse down to juvenile level. The guy is what he is there’s no reason to be calling him out of the shadows to do the same things he’s been notorious for. Not trying to be a douche just looking to maintain this site as a place of rational communication that respects others opinions.


  8. Posted by Crow on 2014/01/09 at 12:48 PM

    I just can’t get behind this move. I accepted the Dempsey move and defended it after awhile but I just don’t like the move period, although I’m starting to think we overrate Bradley. I’ve rarely ever seen a Roma fan say something positive about him, and often the comments are harshly negative. I always thought Bradley would be an automatic starter on a Europa League/borderline Champions level team throughout Europe (Everton, Leverkeusen, Valenica, etc) and I said as early as post-2010 World Cup and as recent as about a month ago that I thought he could be a regular contributor at a team like Manchester United, and really believed that.

    However, it doesn’t really seem like he had much interest- the same teams were mentioned in the Summer- Hellas Verona, Bologna, Fulham, Sunderland. It just seems that we rate Bradley much higher than Europe does. I still would have rather seen him go to Fulham or even Sunderland and then maybe boost his stock again during the World Cup, but its surprising to me other teams weren’t interested. I’ve never been a fan of Serie A, but appreciate the league more now since Bradley went to Chievo Verona. You could see his improvement with the National Team almost instantly. Bradley was a monster during the World Cup- I think he was playing at his absolute limit, but has raised his ceiling since going to Serie A. I don’t see Bradley losing his skill before the World Cup, but I don’t agree with the speculation he is done developing as a player. That is why I don’t want him to leave Europe. Because I think he could develop into an even better player by 2018. Maybe truly ‘world class’ or close to it. I’m also worried about him getting banged up or losing “form” like Dempsey has while adjusting to the league. He will get a full preseason with Toronto however.

    Is he the best player in CONCACAF? I think so, although that really isn’t saying much. Dos Santos and Vela are so inconsistent, and Hernandez is a one trick pony at best. Donovan and Dempsey aren’t at the level they used to be.

    This is good for MLS, which I do want to see succeed although I think there are things that would help the league and television ratings more than Bradley signing. As a Philadelphia Union fan it is gutting that freaking Toronto FC (the new Monaco of MLS) can sign 3 DP’s and have another on the books while the Union just let any creative player on their roster go (Kleberson, Fabinho, Farfan, Torres) and sign absolutely no one. You think Philadelphia would have had a chance (according to Jeff Carlisle they made some kind of play). Its close to where Bradley grew up (I can see Bruce Springsteen playing Philly or South Jersey with Bradley on stage), they have to have loads of allocation money unless Piotr Nowak has it in Swiss bank accounts somewhere, and Bradley would fill a gaping hole for the team.

    I can understand the above sentiment about Bradley making more money or feeling ‘appreciated’ and us not thinking about that as fans. Or certainly what is best for his family (although it his Ussoccer interviews it seemed like the family always valued living abroad). However, the other side of the argument is of course as fans we are invested and concerned with the team playing to the best of its ability. I traveled to 7 of the hex qualifiers with a great amount of time and expense involved, and will be traveling to Brazil. I definitely am concerned with the USMNT approaching its full potential and have a right to submit my opinion on whether this is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ move.


    • Posted by Crow on 2014/01/09 at 12:55 PM

      Two other things I was thinking about- I honestly haven’t been able to watch many of Bradley’s games- just the occasional game that is on Gol TV/BeinTV Does he have a “Tim Howard 2009” syndrome where his national team form is much higher than his domestic form?

      Also, how has the United States or especially Mexico not been able to produce a player yet of say Kagawa’s skill level (thinking of talented players from ‘lesser’ soccer countries)?

      I really think for the USMNT and US soccer to succeed in general, and capture the public’s attention, there needs to be a superstar (maybe not Messi or Ronaldo but close) or a couple of noticeable stars on the team. Remember the excitement of Donovan and Beasley during the 2002 run? That is what really caught my attention and got me interested in the sport.


  9. Posted by KickinNames.. on 2014/01/09 at 1:04 PM

    A little shocked actually but not considering his role shifting drastically from beginning of season until now. I was always a bit skeptical as to why he was getting that much PT at Roma. His motor of course is generally appreciated but he just didn’t seem to fit into their style. He also was a bit more erratic with his passing under the Serie A microscope and there were always 3 or 4 turnovers a game that were a little cringe inducing. But I have seen the massive growth in his composure on the ball and in distribution.
    I’m guessing that 6MM per year may have had a bit more influence than his CL dreams.


    • Posted by Eric on 2014/01/10 at 3:52 PM

      He led Roma in completion percentage in terms of passing. I don’t think his passing was an issue.


      • Posted by mbw on 2014/01/10 at 4:25 PM

        His pass completion percentage is currently third in all of Serie A, behind Nigel de Jong and a guy for Fiorentina who’s played even less than Bradley. But he did lose the ball a bit too much in other ways.


        • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2014/01/11 at 10:11 AM

          My point exactly. Eric I appreciate the 2D stats but on watching he was doing a lot of short touch (tiki taka?) give and receive rear and sideways balls. When moving the ball forward there were a few times a game where he played a noticeably poor ball that gave away possession in the middle third. You’d hear the crowd murmur and also the body language of Totti and others around him. Don’t get me wrong he also occasionally played incisive over the top balls and overall was a decent contributor. Just not a difference maker overall for a top team (at least this year). I think 2-3 yrs ago he would have held his place but there success this year may have been a curse.
          I love the growth of his game and have watched every Roma game this year as a fan of both him and Roma. It was becoming noticeable that the side that Garcia was most comfortable with did not include Mikey.


  10. Posted by Jim on 2014/01/09 at 1:11 PM

    Wish he would get some CL ball, but as others have referred to, he’s getting a big raise to play in a pretty good city with a good fanbase and an aspiring new owner… I would have done the same thing without a doubt. Rom is a heck of a pressure cooker to play for when you’re a little fish, classy as Bradley is…


  11. Posted by Ranting on 2014/01/09 at 2:15 PM

    I’m a little taken aback he would do this. That said, if reports are true and he is offered 6m to play in Toronto – I mean that would put him on par with the top DM’s in the world to be honest. To put it in perspective, a guy like Lucas Leiva makes around 3m pounds a year for Liverpool. Lucas isn’t Yaya Toure, but is a 27 year old Brazilian national player at a top club. Fernandinho is around 5m pounds annually. He IS one of the top 5 DMs in the world and plays on a team known to offer outrageous contracts. So I get the money thing. And honestly, I don’t think he’ll have a dramatic dip in form. In my opinion, the players that usually drop in form the most when they play against lesser competition are the goal scorers. Not holding MFs. And not guys with Bradley’s mentality.

    My problem with this move is of the selfish variety. I just thought Bradley was a terrific ambassador for US soccer abroad. And I enjoyed watching him play at Roma. And I would have enjoyed watching him play at whatever European club he could have transferred to had he not been happy with his bench role at Roma.

    My OTHER problem is with the MLS media who routinely write/tweet/shout all of this nonsense with a giant chip on their shoulder. Guys like Steve Davis, Jason Davis and whoever else (sorry Matt, I know you may disagree). This constant “anyone who doesn’t like the MLS is a Euroelitist” or whatever. NO! I don’t enjoy watching the MLS bc it isn’t good soccer. The talent still isn’t there. The technical ability still isn’t there. Its just the reality of the league right now. THAT SAID – can it get better? Yea! Is it getting better? Yea!! But the league isn’t getting better because Dempsey and Bradley are coming home to giant paychecks. The league is getting better because of the development academies and the young kids coming up. In fact, players like Dempsey and Bradley coming home to take huge pay checks if anything ….HURTS the MLS. Bc it takes money out of the pockets of these young kids who the league needs to keep around. I mean, the MLS minimum is what? 40K? something like that? No wonder you have kids in inner city America playing other sports.

    So that is my big rant. Bradley coming here isn’t a huge deal. It won’t dramatically impact the National Team as much as people think. But it also DOESNT help the MLS. And more importantly – stop telling me how underrated the MLS is. Its perfectly well rated. Its still not that much fun to watch.


    • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2014/01/10 at 10:03 AM

      You nailed a handful of very valid points re MLS. I also think his makeup won’t allow him to drop off between now and June but long term there’s a big difference between having to receive and distribute the ball under constant structured pressure and being able to balloon the ball over the defenders head and hope that someone can do something with it. That’s the style and substance difference that can gradually erode your international competitive abilities IMO.
      Good stuff..


    • I don’t disagree that the talent level in MLS doesn’t rival the worlds top leagues. That being said, don’t Bradley and Dempsey and Defoe etc. raise that level? As to your comment about young players coming from academy systems, I couldn’t agree more. I’m in Seattle and have watched the development on DeAndre Yedlin. He just got his first call up to the senior team and I truly believe he’ll find a home at right back there for years to come. Bit these high dollar signings really don’t effect the salaries available for other players. The DP slots have a limited impact on the salary cap (I’m not sure the specific number, but Bradley’s 6 mil only counts about 345 thousand cap dollars). Also, home grown players like Yedlin have no impact at all. Really one of the more forward looking policies in MLS.

      As for the league in general, I’m under no illusion that MLS’s level of play is competitive with the top leagues in the world. I look forward to the UEFA champions league every year because its the best players on the best teams from the best leagues in the world, it gets no better. But as a long suffering fan (back to the days of “Soccer Made in Germany” on PBS), nothing gives me more joy than to put on my colors and join 40,000 other fans living and dying on each touch of the ball. My boys, my city, my colors.


  12. Posted by evan on 2014/01/09 at 4:25 PM

    hate hate HATE it! Booooooooooo Toronto!


  13. Posted by Gregorio on 2014/01/09 at 8:08 PM

    Long time since I’ve been here but I love Cross’s comment “what would dirkranovich think?”
    Anyway I will echo the sentiment that I will miss seeing an American in a top league in Europe for selfish reasons. I love my EPL and enjoy turning on the telly and see some of our boys on some teams, Heck I rejoiced seeing Marcus Hahanemann playing for the Wolves, show me glimpses of Jozy with the Black Cats, or turn to a Spanish station that has Nantes so I can see Bedoya.
    Anyway this will be a good thing for MLS and US soccer, on Saturdays I sometimes prefer to watch Mexican league games than MLS, but with more recognizable, name players on MLS teams, I like many others will be more apt to watch the games.
    Its like MLB, everyone wants the Yankees in town and tickets are hard to come by but who wants to see a San Diego vs Houston game? same with MLS, the more recognizable talent brought to the MLS( both internationally & domestically known) will cause more people to watch, go to games excluding the die hard soccer supporters who have always been there. (I confess to going to NY Met games when Shea Stadium had 4k people in attendance)
    So its a bummer that MB won’t be a part of my discussion with my Euro &South American friends, but its good for the sport in the long run. Hell I remember being happy that John Harkes played in England at least we had someone, now I still wish he was in England. Anyway thanks for letting me rant….


    • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2014/01/10 at 10:06 AM

      I believe the “kicking a guy when he’s down” rule is suspended when Harkes is the target. I have enjoyed Kyle Martino’s increasing presence in place of his awful Ian Darke-baiting nonsense…how the hell can you piss off Ian Darke…?


  14. HOF commentary right here: “Hell I remember being happy that John Harkes played in England at least we had someone, now I still wish he was in England.”


  15. Posted by dude1 on 2014/01/10 at 8:04 PM

    I can’t believe people are missing the fact that this totally changes the natural order of talent progression for the US. If you’re overjoyed that MLS is the destination now, where the money is, then I’ve got two sobering realities.

    1) MLS isn’t at the level where it pushes our best players to be world class- world class, not MLS all star good. Donovan was a prodigy, and an exception- his natural talent made him the best outfield player we’ve ever had, and it turns out that being a small fish in a big pond was best for him in his early years. Dempsey and Bradley are living proof that the greatest evolution happens overseas, and ironically that evolution in their game and their name value is what allowed them to come home in big blow outs.

    2) This isn’t the boon to MLS that people think. Go into a bar and shout, “Michael Bradley just signed with Toronto! Isn’t that crazy!” Unless they remember half drunkenly some bald guy who scored a goal in South Africa, their response will be vacant of understanding. Bradley will be an upgrade to Toronto’s midfield, and their playoff hopes will get a boost. Garber gets to crow that we have Michael Bradley and Dempsey to anyone who knows who they are.

    Meanwhile, Bradley and Dempsey count down to the one chance US Soccer has every four years of capturing the imagination of a disinterested country. They also happen to be examples of players who can play with the big boys in Europe, and hold their own. That inspires kids who don’t watch MLS- the overwhelming majority. If Bradley and Dempsey don’t perform at their international best, we’ll leave the World Cup with hardly a whimper. And no one will wonder who that bald guy is.

    MLS is a great American institution, and it has come a long, long way. Attracting players like Henry and Beckham has encouraged better foreign talent to come to the league, and the new academy system is bearing fruit. We need the league to nurture and sustain American soccer, and we need it so that our foreign based players can have a safety net so their careers aren’t totally dependent on the daunting European journey. The return of Bradley isn’t a triumphant return home- it’s a closed loop. MLS can strive for bigger and better things, and players should strive for bigger and better things, and the national team should benefit from the two- but if it won’t if one hamstrings the other.


  16. Posted by FellainisFro on 2014/01/11 at 2:15 AM

    Wow. Not about MB90 going to Toronto. But rather how much the tone of discourse has changed on here. I have been following the Shin Guardian for nearly 4 years now and have appreciated the level of knowledge, passion and intelligence of the writers on here as well as the regular commentators whose replies have been top notch quality without the self aggrandizing BS or resorting to juvenile internet tough guy remarks. I for one have appreciated both the opinions I agreed with and also took into consideration those I disagreed with as well. But I never thought to call someone out on their opinion as if I was the arbiter of what was fact or fiction. What happened? It’s as if I went to the Shin Guardian and was redirected to Goal.com. I sure hope the tone and tenor doesn’t begin to degrade ahead of what should be an important and exciting World Cup year. I have been a huge fan of this website exactly because it is not yahoo, espn or goal.com where trolls rule the day. Please keep to the high standards that made this website such a pleasure to visit for USMNT news and opinion.

    P.S. As I remember it from 4 years ago MB90 was the nickname given to Michael Bradley as a derogatory description for his high motor style of playing box to box for 90 minutes frantically with very little impact on the game.


    • Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2014/01/12 at 2:09 PM

      I think you’re right, that’s what I recall. It was was started by the nepotism crowd, but the 90 implied that he would never be subbed out regardless of form. It slowly morphed over time to regard work rate. Old news now, great to see him ride through all the BS.


  17. Posted by SamT on 2014/01/11 at 1:23 PM

    Interesting this hasn’t been confirmed yet…

    In the early 90s I had the opportunity to work for a sports agent. (And FWIW, I am nowhere near the business today.) I remember my boss putting an NBA prospect on a plane to Italy as a ploy to get the NBA deal done. Played up how that player had Italian roots. And that was the leverage he needed to get the NBA team to the table and sign.

    We live in different times in 2014, of course, and information travels much more efficiently now. So maybe this really will be signed and announced soon.

    But I also would not be shocked if this is a ploy to get leverage and urgency to push some of MB’s European options closer to the ask.


  18. Posted by chris_thebassplayer on 2014/01/12 at 2:41 PM

    I don’t mind the potential move to MLS. Beyond the playing time and money, the level of play might allow him to fine tune some elements of his game entering the attacking third. He probably wasn’t going to get that opportunity in Europe. I don’t see it being a hinderance to his preparation for the WC.


  19. Posted by Paula on 2014/01/12 at 9:43 PM

    It does seem like these players would rather play than ride the pine in Europe. In a World Cup year, isn’t this paramount?


    • Paula,

      In Mikey’s case, out of about 17-18 games, he started 5 and came in as a sub in 6.

      And Roma brought in some new competition for him during the transfer window.

      Now perhaps the new blood was in anticipation of selling DDR, Strootman or Pjanic, the starting midfield three but I have to feel like Mikey had a pretty good idea of where he stood with Garcia, the manager. If you followed Roma bit you got the feeling that Mikey was well liked, well respected but not a front line guy. Everyone talks about Mikey being at his peak which is another way of saying he is not likely to get dramatically better.

      So when you get a chance to increase your salary 600%, guarantee your playing time leading up to the World Cup and frankly get to be part of a pretty big deal in your home continent, sacrificing a few personal professional goals does not seem like much of a sacrifice. And while Rome is a fantastic city, Toronto is a pretty awesome place as well.

      It also should not drastically affect his form with the USMNT at least not for the upcoming summer.

      Which is to say sitting on the bench at Roma, playing every once in a while, becoming MB 30 instead of MB90, is probably not better than being the big cheese, a leader and a regular starter in Toronto.


      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2014/01/17 at 8:32 AM

        Schmutz- Perfect capture of the situation on the ground that probably defined his decision process for him. In the short term it was the exact right move for him due to the crazy $’s and the 100% first team utilization. Long term we’ll have to see if he loans out in the Jan-March window to get the higher level influence in his game ongoing.
        As a selfish soccer fan, the more well rounded international level players that MLS imports into the game the better chance the product improves enough to become more watchable and enjoyable.
        The Mo Edu move to Philly has similar ring to it although his Nats career under Klinsi seems to be on a respirator at present.


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