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Italy's Conte says Giovinco, Pirlo paid consequences of MLS moves

Photo by Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Photo by Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Giovinco and Andrea Pirlo will not be a part of the Italian National Team’s Euro 2016 run, and, according to head coach Antonio Conte, their MLS moves may have been the deciding factor in their exclusions.

The Toronto FC forward and NYCFC midfielder were left off of Conte’s 30-man preliminary roster, which was released on Monday. While Conte admitted he scouted the duo extensively, their performances in MLS were not enough for either to make Italy’s final roster for this summer’s tournament

“I spoke to Andrea, I needed to hear from him and we sent people to the U.S.,” Conte said at a press conference. “However, we’ve made other choices and you have to accept them and deal with the consequences. Nothing was left to chance.

“We evaluated him and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms. We evaluated them technically, we didn’t leave anything to chance. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, we went everywhere to have clear and precise ideas. I picked the 30 who I think will give me the most guarantees.”

Conte, who is set to assume the role of Chelsea manager following this summer’s Euros, worked with both Giovinco and Pirlo extensively while in charge at Juventus. The duo most recently joined the national team in October for a pair of qualifiers.

What do you think of Conte’s comments? Do you agree with his decision?

Share your thoughts below.

80 comments
  • Johnnyrazor

    I don’t think Pirlo really needs in the conversation, he just isn’t at that level anymore. Giovinco, you can make an argument for, but its not like they are bringing in bums to take his spot, the other forwards are very good as well. Plus, I think Sebastian pretty much knew his international time was done when he went to MLS. The good news for him is Conte is gone in a month and maybe the next manager will view him differently.

    Like

    • brett

      If memory serves me correctly, Conte was supportive of Gio’s move to MLS stating that if he maintains his currently playing ability that he’ll be contending for a spot. Whether that was true or perhaps he was saying “go get your pay day Gio” I don’t know.

      But much like you said, it’s not like he is going up again weaker competition, he’s got solid competition even if he were to have remained in Italy.

      It’s far more likely that the next manager will have a lesser impression of MLS and will likely write him off without bothering a call up. As the article states, Conte had a connection with Gio given their time at Juve, so it’s more likely that he gave him a shot because of that more so than his ability in MLS.

      Like

  • Concorde

    So he and his assistants watched a lot of MLS and concluded that they don’t think too highly of it. Porca troia !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Turkmenbashy

      mignotta bestiale! quelli rozzi orecchioni in Canada non sanno giocare a calcio e hanno rovinato il nostro sesto attacante!

      Like

  • The TX 2 Stepper

    No way he could have been watching Gio closely. NO ONE in the Italian set up is playing as well as he is. Did he even see the trap, turn and shot on Saturday?

    Vaffanculo

    Like

  • lutch57

    Giovincio could arguably be the best the best player on this Italian squad if he was included. Giaccherini made it and is very similar in both size and style of play, and Giovincio is a much much better player. Not only that but other than the top teams in Italy, MLS teams match up very well. Serie A is not La Liga and certainly not the EPL in terms of talent from top to bottom. Pirlo is 37, but leaving Giovinco off is just an ignorant move Conte.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Concorde

      Assuming Conte’s goal is to win the Euros, what exactly is the point of leaving off a player that can help him do that?

      Are you implying that you know more than Antonio Conte does, or is he playing politics to his own detriment?

      It is hard to follow your argument. How do you know that an MLS team could hang in Serie A?

      Like

      • lutch57

        Its not an argument and Its easy to follow. Look at the first sentence and the last to answer your questions.

        Or to help you…. As far as knowing more than Conte I’m sure I’ve seen Giovinco play in MLS more than he has, its not politics its laziness and ignorance.

        As far as MLS teams competing in Serie A. There are MLS teams that could 100% compete with the teams in the bottom half. Could they in La Liga or the Bundesliga or the EPL?….no.

        Liked by 1 person

      • onlyagame

        kind of a weak argument to say do you think you know more than x coach all the time. not just you but many say that. I wonder if in Spain, Italy, England etc people constantly say, oh the coach has more information. LOL! some things are obvious and Giovinco is at a high level. Conte can do whatever he wants but that doesnt mean its not a mistake. But perhaps he wants to discourage others from making the same move. But, more and more will when they can make more $$ in MLS. (and by the way, I’m no MLS advocate. I dont appreciate their opaque rules and manipulation.)

        Like

      • Concorde

        In France, where I live, not too many people dispute Deschamps’s decisions. He is a legend and has earned the respect of the public, and has had good results. When results are bad, here, players’ performances are typically blamed before the coach, with the exception of an a** like Domenech, who nonetheless nearly won a world cup.

        I imagine things are similar in Germany, Spain, places where people get behind their team and are used to winning things no matter who is on the field. And their coaches have been around for a long time, and have earned, again, respect. But I could be wrong there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lutch57

        I’m Italian and I want to see the best Italian players on the field regardless of what league they play in or who the coach is. Its not about MLS tbh. This team is not very talented and Giovinco is.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Johnnyrazor

      Except almost all the Italian based players are from the top teams Inter, Juve, Roma, Milan, Napoli, Fiorentina.

      Like

      • lutch57

        Except thats not true go look at the squad and also look at the forwards theyre bringing

        Forwards: Eder (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus).

        Insigne is the only player better there add in the fact that Giaccareni made the 30 man. This is possibly the worst Italy team ever brought to a tournament.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andy in Atlanta

        If you tell me that Graziano Pelle is currently a better player than Giovinco… you should be forbidden from commenting on here for a year…

        Conte is a dope and his side is not even going to make it out of the group… They may even finish behind Ireland…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Johnnyrazor

        Maybe its our definition of both but 17 out of the 25 are from the clubs I named and when you add in the 3 from Lazio (27th in Europe by Uefa Coefficients) that gets you to 20 out of 25.

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      • Johnnyrazor

        Andy: Pelle and Giovinco are completely different players, if you want to debate Seba and Insigne because they are the same size and style fine. Insigne can do the same things and he’s 24 as opposed to Giovinco who is 29. You aren’t going to put to 5’4 forwards on a roster.

        Like

    • brett

      Your glasses are a tint deeper than rose if you think MLS sides could hang, even with the bottom tier of Serie A. Could they hammer a result? Sure, but looking at the course of a full season, those MLS sides would be relegated to Serie B.

      MLS has certainly made strides to improve and are getting better year after year, but at a technical and tactical level, even the bottom feeders of Serie A are higher

      Like

      • Ronniet

        and what are you basing this on??? The level in MLS is far different than any other league, less technical than most yes, but it’s physical and fast paced as stated by Pirlo and most new foreign players that come to MLS. Point being, there is no way to know whether an MLS team can compete in any euro league because you have nothing to base it on and to say otherwise is frankly eurosnobish.

        Like

      • brett

        BTW, this is not an argument on whether Gio should or shouldn’t be included, just the MLS vs Serie A topic

        Like

      • lutch57

        It is more about the state of Serie A than MLS. There are MLS teams that 100% could hang. The talent in Italy is not even close to what it used to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andy in Atlanta

        I would put my money on many of the MLS sides consistently getting results again Hellas Verona, Carpi, Frosinone, Palermo etc…. This ain’t your fathers Serie A…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Turkmenbashy

        The reason folks who come here complain about the physical pace (drogba, Pirlo, Kaka, etc.) is because they are 40 year olds. I complain about the pace in my beer league too! “Hey guys, let a guy settle his six pack before you slide tackle him” and make no mistake, this is a beer league for Drogba, Pirlo, Kaka, etc. Giovinco is trying… and dude is lighting up the league. just lighting it up, and he isn’t that great. As for guys not scoring 100 goals, Im not sure you guys understand Italian soccer. they play defense with the kind of passion Brazillians have for scoring goals. They are the pittsburgh steelers, the catenaccio was invented there, and that defense goes way down, even into the Serie C. MLS teams wouldn’t score a single goal all season in Seria A (from the run of play, they might get a lucky penalty once in a while) based on my viewing of the red bull and dynamo over the years. If a guy can score 10-20 goals in Italy, its like 40 in Spain or Germany, and probably 50 in MLS, well I guess there aren’t as many games… so call it 40? Did Giovinco score 40? no? ok then, he isn’t as good as immobile (who BTW is REALLY good).

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      • Eric W

        Yeah, I agree. I’m an MLS fan. I love me team and it’s easily the league that I watch the most. Because I’m a fan and I like local soccer. But no way do I think that it compares in quality to Serie A or any of the big leagues in Europe. MLS teams can’t even compete against Liga MX…

        Like

      • Andy in Atlanta

        @ Eric W… I think you would be very surpirsed at how well Mexican teams would do in Europe… It is a high quality league… easily on par with France save the top 2 or 3 teams…

        Like

      • Andy in Atlanta

        @ Turmenbashy… Frosinone let in 76 goals this season… Pelermo 65…. dont tell me MLS would not score…

        MLS is very physical and full of athletes… Ever notice how Yedlin while good in MLS was never a world beater… yet he locked down a spot with Sunderland in the starting 11?

        MLS also plays in the heat of Summer… I would love to see the Italians playing in this heat…

        Oh wait….. I did in 1994 in the worst WC Final ever to be played because nobody could stand to run in that match…

        Liked by 1 person

      • brett

        one offs, fast pace and physical could triumph but more often than not those teams that are tactical and technical will survive league play longer

        Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        Andy: You just named teams that aren’t in Serie A anymore because they were relegated, not sure that’s a great argument.

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      • Andy in Atlanta

        @Johnnyrazor… Palermo is still in the Serie A….

        Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        Yes Andy 16th place really makes your argument then.

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      • Turkmenbashy

        Andy in atlanta… Oh, jeez, some of the worst teams in Italian Seria A let in just above 1 goal a game over a 40 game season (and keep in mind that that is an average, they are actually losing like 3/4-0 against the top of the table)? Now, having just looked at that particular stat, I see a bunch of teams with more than 60 goals against this season, and I will say that was higher than I thought. Perhaps that is why the Italians have been sucking in international play, I will have to take a deeper look at the state of Italian defense. Suffice it to say, though, that Frosinone (population 496,000) would beat the Dynamo over a home and home.

        Like

  • Gary Page

    Well, there is little dispute that the Italian league is better than MLS. However, using players mostly from the Italian league, Italy has failed to get out of its group the last two World Cups while the US, using a lot of MLS players, won their group in 2010 and finished second to Germany, ahead of Portugal in 2014. Just sayin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Concorde

      Just sayin’ what exactly? Italy has won 4 world cups, and consistently produce the sharpest tacticians and coaches in the world.

      Like

      • lutch57

        Those teams had world class players at almost every position. This Italy team has maybe two…and theyre probably over the hill and not that level anymore. This is the worst Italy team I’ve ever seen brought to a tournament.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Concorde

        They are unfortunately without their two best midfielders, Marchisio and Verratti. But I still think Italy will find a way.

        Like

      • Ronniet

        soccer just like any other sport around the world is what have you done for me lately. Bringing up the fact that Italy has 4 WC’s has nothing to do with their standing now which is not very good so that part of your statement really doesn’t hold much water. It’s obvious Conte doesn’t rate MLS anytime he says “We evaluated him and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms.” American footballers and the american league still hasn’t garnered the respect of a lot of people abroad and these types of statements from him make you wonder about Miazga’s stiuation next season at Chelsea.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Turkmenbashy

      Gary Page… Any team that tries to bring 40 yr. olds to the world cup isn’t going to get out of its group. And yes, Italy has not played well for a decade now, but mostly its because they keep bringing 40 year olds to the field, and balotelli sleeping with 20 brazillians in the hotel, guys smoking at the pool… that brazil thing was a fiasco from top to bottom (even so, other than chompy mc chompperson getting into Chiellini’s head in Brazil, Italy make it out of their group). Let’s see how they do with a slightly younger group this Euro cycle. My suspicion is that they still suck, but things go in waves, periodically you have cycles when the talent just isn’t there. That being said, top to bottom, the talent is still better than in the USA.

      Just look at Bradley. The difference between bradley in Italy and Bradley now is unmistakeable. and its because MLS is a lower level than Serie A.

      Like

      • Gary Page

        I thought a team was judged by its results, not its excuses. As a wise man once said, you are as good as your record says you are and the World Cup is the ultimate test in soccer.

        Like

      • Turkmenbashy

        I thought I was clear in saying Italy has sucked for a decade… I wasn’t giving excuses, I was giving reasons for sucking.

        Like

  • Johnnyrazor

    Giovinco score 9 goals for Conte at Juventus over his last two and a half seasons. He comes to MLS and scores 30 goals in 45 games. I’m not a Eurosnob by any means, but come on do the math, the Atomic Ant didn’t suddenly become a world beater on the flight from Turin to Toronto. He only scored over 10 goals once in Serie A and that was 5 years ago, and has one goal for Italy in 23 appearances. He is the best in MLS right now, but that doesn’t mean he automatically deserves to be called in for Italy. Wondo has been a top scorer in MLS for years and people groan every time he is called in.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Johnnyrazor

        He played in 31 games 2012-13 and got moved down the pecking order because he wasn’t as good as the players above him (in fact they brought in Tevez and Llorente to replace him). Conte would know he was there. They even let him leave early three months early.

        Like

    • SilverRey

      I am totally behind your argument, I think it would be foolish for Conte to disregard last year’s efforts by Giovinco. On the flip side, he’s still been making lots of plays and getting in good positions this year but hasn’t been lighting it up in the last run of games. Unfortunately these are probably the only games that Conte has watched….

      Like

  • Socceroo

    This would be a great chance to hold Garber accountable for the quality of play (or lack thereof) in MLS, and start a real conversation about how to improve it. Will any of our American pundits do that, or will they just somehow try to defend MLS?

    Like

    • Concorde

      If he were being consistent, he would call Conte out publicly for his ignorance and the damage he is doing to the perception of the league ($$$).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Andy in Atlanta

      I honestly want to know if you watch MLS matches regularly? I watch more football than most from all over the world… MLS is a good standard… it is better than Sweden, Norway, Denmark… pretty even with Belgium and Portugal (save the big 3)…..

      Honestly…. MLS is being hurt by some of the old farts that come here for a laugh… Lampard, Pirlo etc… Wheras Keane, Beckham and others embraced the football and the competitive nature of the league…

      Like

      • Concorde

        Eh, it’s alright. At times entertaining, but technically deficient. Due to the structure of the league, incapable of producing a truly great club that plays innovative soccer for a fan base with a passion and wisdom for the game equal to the world’s great clubs.

        You watch the scandinavian leagues??

        Liked by 1 person

      • Socceroo

        I do not watch MLS regularly. The constant long balls drive me crazy.

        You make a good point that players like Pirlo and Lampard hurt the credibility of the league. But the entire business model of the league is still built on recruiting these players. The league goes out of its way to make it happen.

        That is not Pirlo’s fault or Lampard’s fault. It is Garber’s fault. He could instead structure things so that the teams spread their money around in order to improve depth, instead of giving it to a few aging stars or national team players.

        Look at how little emphasis is put on being competitive in the CONCACAF Champions league. MLS is not even trying to improve its standing.

        Like

    • Turkmenbashy

      Here is the thing, improving the soccer is easy… take a flight down to Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, colombia, hell, bolivia, and bring back the best 18 yr. olds you can find (someone might say, why only 18 and older? well because if they are 14, we can’t compete with Europe for their services). Then, each team gets 5 of those players. Bam, suddenly our level of play goes waaay up. Plus our players get better, because they are playing against young Brazilians all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  • dalomismo

    The state of the Italian National Team…. Serie A and Andrea Pirlo makes me shed a tear. It is a close call and always has been w/ Giovinco as a fringe National Team player. My feeling is he is a unique fireball that would serve the Italian team in particular well, however…. reasonable arguments can be made both ways. All that said- the world, the game and yes- MLS are ever changing/evolving. Please Italy- adapt your way of thinking/approach or fall behind.

    Like

  • Rob

    The FIFA 14 crowd is in full force today.
    Here is the thing with coaching at this level: you can read the books, watch the youtube videos, attend the seminars ….and you still know absolutely nothing about coaching or how to put a team together. Leave it to the pros.

    Like

    • Ronniet

      this naive and ignorant take clearly doesn’t include any of the other prominent managers around the World that have included in upwards of 40-50 MLS players on their rosters for either the Copa, Euros or friendlies happening this summer during the international break but keep throwing shade!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rob

        Your post makes no sense so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you meant to reply to somebody else.

        Like

      • Ronniet

        someone liked my post so i guess it makes sense to others. Or maybe i did comment inexplicably to an inexplicable post.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Nate Dollars

      “Here is the thing with coaching at this level: you can read the books, watch the youtube videos, attend the seminars ….and you still know absolutely nothing about coaching or how to put a team together.”

      how do you know? are *you* an international manager? if *i* don’t know enough to deserve an opinion on these things, how do *you* know enough to say that they’re right? what if two international managers don’t agree with each other? what then?!? OH GOD I DONT KNOW WHO TO WORSHIP

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ronniet

        took the words out of my mouth….it makes me laugh when fans try and diminish someone else opinions as if they’re all knowing and their opinions of the game are above reproach and so matter of fact smh

        Liked by 1 person

  • Nate Dollars

    this whole thing is so dumb. does mls “have a long way to go”? yeah, i think so. however, the giovinco decision doesn’t necessarily say anything about that, and pirlo is irrelevant to the national team at this point.

    if the writers here even had a remote familiarity with conte, they’d know that he’s never valued giovinco (rightly or wrongly). this wasn’t some judgment on mls, although i’m sure conte appreciates the easy target.

    i’d also hesitate to take conte as the infallible voice of god at the moment because (a) it’s not like he’s been stellar as italy’s manager and (b) he’s already facing accusations in italy of checking out early now that he’s signed with chelsea.

    Liked by 2 people

    • dalomismo

      Agreed. Honestly- having ones esteem/perception regarding a league teeter on the bleeding edge of one selection seems to me like needing to make progress as fans. Besides which…. world perception regarding a player or league is almost always a step behind. MLS ain’t quite as bad as most recall, nor sadly… Serie A nearly as good.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Gary Page

    MLS is better than it was and not as good as it will be. It has been pretty consistent in its improvement. Because it is in quite a bit of flux due to expansion and changes in its internal rules all the time, it’s kind of hard to judge where it rates. Jozy did much better in Holland than in MLS. Does that mean MLS is better than Holland? Who knows? We do know from some international teams that MLS is providing some pretty good international players and will probably get better in the future. The tone of this article is way overblown.

    Like

  • Beto

    interesting debate here. but reading Conte’s comment – not the headline – he did not say Zazza or Pelle are better than Giovinco or that MLS is inferior to clubs those forwards play at .. he said that he knows how his European based players will stack up verses other European based players. bringing a player playing in a totally different environment is a variable going into the tournament. I don’t agree with the decision but I follow the logic and its his team.

    Like

    • lutch57

      by that logic why is he bringing Zaza or Pelle? Both have not stacked up very well against other European opponents…

      Like

  • Dennis

    Honestly, it is a coach’s decision. If he selects the players who can technically do what he asks of them tactically, and win games, no one will really complain in the end. If the players are seen trying to do things they are incapable of and losing games fans will not remember the coach fondly.

    I do not know enough about just what it is Conte wants from his forwards or which players are the ones closest to his ideas.

    A big difference between Italy, Germany, Spain, Brazil, France, etc. and the USA is the depth of the talent pool means that it will not always be the best player who gets selected, but rather the players best suited for the coach’s tactics. Those countries have many players close to each other in talent so not choosing the “best player” is not a problem if you have in mind a better player for that role.

    Like

  • Adam M.

    Giovinco — who is a very, very good player — is a walking indictment of MLS’ poor defending and a friendly reminder that Landon Donovan was never quite world class. He’s a great measuring stick for the league and the borderline Italian international in his prime is eating it alive. He’s also a good measuring stick for the USMNT. He’d be the first name on our sheet if he were American.

    Like

    • MTF

      Maybe not a world class club career, but Landon Donovan scored five goals in the World Cup Finals (plus a cross against Portugal in 2002 that resulted in an own goal), the most of any player from CONCACAF in history. He also had two against the likes of Brazil and Italy in the Confederations Cup and was Best Young Player at the 2002 World Cup. The majority of world class players who’ve ever played the game don’t have a resume like that.

      Like

  • Alex C

    I realize this is not directly related, and I don’t know if Conte was the Azzuri coach during World Cup 2014, ..but does anyone know off-hand how many MLS players were on the Costa Rican team that man-handled Italy, even though the referee incorrectly disallowed one of Costa Rica’s goals?

    Like

    • Johnnyrazor

      Only three were on the roster and only Gio Gonzalez played, and he had only been in MLS 3 months when he played in Brazil.

      Like

    • Turkmenbashy

      Conte was absolutely not the coach of that geriatric, insipid, unmotivated Italian team. He was still busy winning back-to-back-to-back Seria A titles and having undefeated seasons.

      Like

      • Johnnyrazor

        Didn’t help they played their first game in the jungle of Manuas. I think only Portugal won a game after playing there and that was the meaningless final game against eliminated and under paid Ghana.

        Like

      • Turkmenbashy

        That was also the game I saw, and the only time they looked even halfway good. Again, more explanation than excuse, but that is what happens when 38 yr. old legs go to the jungle, then hang out in their hotel having sex with the hotel maids and smoking cigs. I remember the gazzetta dello sport having pictures of Balotelli’s destroyed room…

        Like

  • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

    If it were MLS move that ruled him out, he wouldn’t have sent scouts.
    He has to choose. Not choosing Piro, who lost 7-0 and looks like one of the worst starting mids in MLS. pretty easy choice. Giov. probably a tougher decision. Last years version probably makes it.

    Like

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