USA Training in Fort Lauderdale
USA Training in Fort Lauderdale
Toronto FC look set to add another big name to their roster ahead of the new MLS season. Having captured USA star midfielder Michael Bradley and England striker Jermain Defoe, Toronto aim to seal a deal for Brazil keeper Julio Cesar. The Queens Park Rangers keeper is out of favor with the English Championship side and is looking for regular soccer in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup.
For this rumor and the rest of Saturday’s transfer gossip, click here.
LAUDERHILL, Fla. – Toronto FC spent seven long and painful years trying to get out of its own way. Two big steps taken over the past few days suggest TFC may have finally turned the corner.
Only the most fanciful Reds fan would have expected the week Toronto has had. Michael Bradley agreed to a $10 million move from AS Roma to provide the leadership and the midfield quality required to inspire a turnaround. Dwayne De Rosario returned to the club after a bitter departure under a previous regime that underscores the differences between now and then. And Jermain Defoe sealed a long-expected switch from Tottenham Hotspur in the early hours of Friday morning to conclude a staggering trio of signings.
The incoming stars – including promising Brazilian striker Gilberto – highlight the strength of this reconstituted club. MLSE turned to Tim Leiweke to bolster its sports properties and lead its sprawling organization. Leiweke leaned on his extensive MLS experience from his days with Anschutz Entertainment Group to install league executive Tim Bezbatchenko as his new general manger. And then the two men compiled a plan to steer one of the league’s four biggest clubs in the correct direction.
Tim Leiweke never sets his sights modestly. #mls— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy)
MLSE allotted significant funds to bankroll the search for two high-profile Designated Players. Leiweke established an ambitious set of targets and landed them Bezbatchenko shored up the squad with lower-profile acquisitions – proven MLS players capable of lifting the overall talent level within the shallow ranks like Jackson and Justin Morrow – and watched the pliable, but still relevant, salary budget carefully.
All of the work paid off this week. TFC deployed its considerable resources to present Bradley (rumored to receive a four-fold increase in his salary to start a second spell) and Defoe (handed a four-year contract poised to carry him through to his footballing dotage) with lucrative offers they simply could not refuse given the landscape elsewhere. De Rosario offered a cheaper, but perhaps no less, import designed to link past with present and provide support for a team still in need of alternatives.
The job isn’t done yet. There are players still to acquire to round out a group still lacking balance and squad depth in comparison to the league’s top sides. Ryan Nelsen must prove his acumen extends beyond tempting former Spurs teammate Defoe to cross the Atlantic. This concoction of intriguing players must produce the club’s first playoff berth and subsequently satisfy far loftier expectations.
Even with Bradley, Defoe and De Rosario in the fold now, there is no guarantee of success. But the methods required to bring them to the club instill hope it might finally arrive sooner rather than later.
Images provided by Getty.
Former United States men’s international Taylor Twellman sparked hysteria on Twitter this afternoon with a brief, incredible dispatch about the future of Michael Bradley:
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman)
This move carries most of the hallmarks of Clint Dempsey’s stunning move to Seattle last summer with one catch: Bradley, 26, is in the prime of his career.
The thought of Bradley — perhaps the best player in a USA shirt at the moment — exchanging Serie A for MLS at this stage raises a whole host of questions. Most of them permeated through the Internet in the ensuing minutes as people tried to process why Bradley might spurn the chance to fight for his place at Roma or stay in Europe with another club.
Perhaps the most interesting dispatch came from Philadelphia Union defender Amobi Okugo:
Please Bradley… stay overseas we look up to you …you’re one of the few #ambitionispriceless …but if you do come to philly haha— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays)
Whether TFC and Bradley eventually complete the move remains uncertain at this point. One thing is clear about the present, though: #BradleyWatch has started in earnest.
Michael Bradley and Lex Luthor: separated at birth?
You can see the resemblance, can’t you? Italian soccer announcer Carlo Zampa clearly does, as he loudly referred to Bradley as “LEX LUTHOR!” several times after the USMNT star scored the game-winner for AS Roma against Udinese this weekend. Listen in, and keep scrolling down to see the goal itself:
Roma improved to 9-0-0 with the win, setting a new Serie A record for best start to a season, while it was Bradley’s first goal of the season in his first game back since suffering an ankle injury in early September. An exciting moment for both club and player, and most certainly for Carlo Zampa.
In falling to Costa Rica for the seventh consecutive time on the Ticos’ home ground, the Americans added yet more gravitas to the already-loaded build-up for their World Cup qualifier against Mexico here on Tuesday. So, having allowed some time and space for hindsight, here are the relevant lessons drawn from the 3-1 loss as they relate to yet another crucial bout:
1. Michael Bradley is indispensable
Folding over his ankle in the final movements of the warm-up and ruling the central midfielder out of the game plainly unsettled the team. He is their emotional leader, after all, the man leading by his combative example and, from the looks of it, verbally too. But when he fell away, they lost more than that. What Bradley brings to the table, nobody else can replicate. Shuttling between boxes, he sets the pace, tone and rhythm of the run of play. He covers much ground defensively, distributes from deep and gets counterattacks started. Geoff Cameron, the late replacement for Bradley, tried to fill that role but he hasn’t the range and simply isn’t as tidy with the ball. Bradley’s absence against Mexico will have to be compensated for; his many roles filled by a combination of others.
It’s hard to think of a better edition than today’s Paper Chase which contains some very interesting rumors surrounding the futures of Michael Bradley, Hulk, Wayne Rooney, Samuel Eto’o, Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil - the list is endless. Click here to find out the latest moves in the transfer window.
Ever grow tired of your team’s jerseys, or even wish you could have a say in creating them? Serie A club AS Roma is giving its fans the chance to do so with an online poll. Registered fans of the club can vote between three design choices starting on Monday, August 5th and ending on September 1st.
You have to commend a big club like Roma for thinking about the fans, and they’re not the first team to do this! The LA Galaxy offered fans an even better deal last year. LA staged a contest collecting over 8,000 different fan-made designs, and after whittling it down to five final choices, fans ultimately chose this, an homage to the classic Galaxy jerseys from the past:
Let’s see if you can beat that, Roma fans. Just make sure your team doesn’t end up running around in something like this:
Roma’s Michael Bradley talks about his new life in Rome, Bruce Springsteen, Italian hand gestures and much more in this interview. Check it out!
Roma and USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley starred in a new Volkswagen commercial in Italy together with club legend Francesco Totti!
In the ad, Bradley tries to correct Totti on some English pronunciation. It’s quite funny at the end, and Bradley’s quite good, too!