Today we begin our weekly column “Yea, Nay, or Meh” where we take a look at mainly the top American soccer stories with some world stories thrown in from the past week and give our judgment.
Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe to Toronto FC: Meh There is a lot to like about these moves. First, picking off two top players from Europe is huge for MLS. It shows that players are willing to come and play here. Sure, big money helps, but you get the sense that the players coming over now are not simply mercenaries but players that can help their team, ala David Beckham. Second, this move is going to get playing time for Michael Bradley. It is not going to be the standard of Serie A or the Bundesliga but it is going to be tough minutes ahead of the World Cup.
So why the meh? Simply, it’s one thing to spend big money on players but until MLS raises the salary cap and allows teams to bring in better compliment players the overall quality of the league will suffer. If MLS truly wants to be a global power they need to double the salary cap. We wouldn’t be surprised if either Michael Bradley or Jermaine Defoe silently became dissatisfied midseason by the lack of quality around them.
MLS Draft: Yea Is the MLS Draft going to a deliver a National Team caliber player? If you ask around there are doubts but if you look at the statistics the odds say yes. With all of the player acquisition mechanisms, especially Homegrown Players, eroding some of the talent in the draft there are still bargains to be had. Teams that do their research are rewarded while teams that don’t think it is a waste of time.
Ronaldo: Yea He may not be everybody’s favorite player but there is not question surrounding Ronaldo’s quality. He deserved to win the Ballon D’Or. Every team he has ever played on he has made better. His work ethic is phenomenal on the pitch. He is coachable. Having won nearly everything there is to win he will be squarely focused on Portugal on the World Cup this summer.
FIFA: Nay Speaking on the World Cup, FIFA needs to get its act together and do one of three things: 1) officially say the World Cup in Qatar will be played in the summer 2) officially say it will be played in Winter 3) or move the tournament all together. We’d like to see the last option but that is not going to happen. Leagues and players will come around to whatever they decide but only if they give them ample time. Frankly FIFA have backed themselves into a corner they can’t get out of. If they go with the winter than countries that paid big money for television rights will be justifiably upset. If they go with the summer than players may drop out.
D.C. United: Yea The club was dreadful last year but with the moves they have made over the summer it’s hard to not see them pushing for a playoff spot. Having a bunch of allocation money from winning the Open Cup, qualifying for the Champions League, and finishing dead last in the league helps. It will be interesting to see if they have worked some of these deals to give them relief next season but for now they are making all the right moves.