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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A simple question: would Altidore or Bradley ever go back to Europe?

Image: Toronto FC

Altidore just finished a move back to MLS to play alongside USMNT mainstay Michael Bradley at Toronto FC. A dream move for the club and the league. A respite for a forward looking to score (and play) regularly. A nightmare for Jurgen Klinsmann.

Scarcely a season removed from seeing his best field payer, Michael Bradley, retired from European football, now his marquee forward is heading stateside. Both, he opines, belong in a Champions League team. Not so much for Altidore, it seems, after scoring just one goal for lowly EPL team Sunderland in 1.5 seasons there.

And following Jozy is Brek Shea (Orlando City), Juan Agudelo (NE Revolution), Sacha Kljestan (Red Bulls) and Mix Diskerud (NYCFC). The latter, however, was a move suported by Klinsmann.

It's interesting that now all of these World Cup players are taking part in the January camp and early-year friendlies. It didn't quite pan out in Chile versus a domestic-based team. Hopefully it will be a different story against Panama.

So, to the main point of this article. Would any of the above players ever move back to Europe? Perhaps if the right offer is there?

It's actually more likely that European teams won't be interested. At least not in a player like Altidore, who was extremely streaky on both sides: lots of goals for AZ Alkmaar, very few for Sunderland/Bursaspor/Hull/Villareal. 

For Michael Bradley it's a different story. If he regains his former, pre-2014 form, and he has a good Copa America, then a big team might come calling. On the other hand, the lad seems to be through with playing in Europe, having gone from Holland to Germany to England to Italy. He know's he's good. He can score at the World Cup. He's tired of not being a starer.

The case for Brek Shea and Sacha Kljestan is fairly clear. For Shea Europe is just not for him. Kljestan just wants to come home.

But Agudelo and Diskerud could still go back accross the pond, and deservedly so. Once again, it will be up to their form in the international stage that will determine their club level fates.

As for Bradley and Altidore, it's probably already too late to go back. But why do it anyway? Just because Klinsmann says so? They are just fine in MLS, regardless of what USMNT EU purists might say. Remember Landon Donovan, the legend? We had our local star stay local and still set trends. There's nothing wrong with staying in MLS.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lampard, Gerrard, and the new MLS veteran superstars

Photo credit: MLS

Lampard is coming. Finally. Really. The news broke yesterday that the former England national team captain and Chelsea FC superstar would be donning the NYCFC crest during its first season in MLS this year.

Why all the fuss? It is another reminder that, to the rest of the world, MLS is still a second class league.

My argument here is this: if you sign with a team, don't you want to start playing with the team as soon as the season starts? That would mean that if you were on loan during the fall, then you could join the team's pre-season in February and eventually start play in March. Doesn't sound difficult, right?

Not for stars like Beckham, who went on loan to AC Milan during the first half of the year in 2009 and did not return to the Galaxy until the summer window. Now Lampard follows the same path, even thought it was stated that he would start playing for NYCFC in March.

We get it. The EPL is a prestigious league and you want to play through to the end of the season. But it's disingenuous to announce that a player will start on time when the reality is another. It's better to be upfront about it. The loan is for a full season or half a season. Period.

It's just a bit upsetting that these marquee players, or their representatives, ignore basic concepts of courtesy. Is it because MLS is still not considered a serious league? From experience at the World Cup, that sentiment needs revising in the international sphere.

Now don't get me wrong. I love the idea of Lampard, Gerrard, Kaka joining the league and I'm looking forward to seeing them in action. I'm just asking for some respect for our 20-year old league.