Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
It’s official. Michael Bradley is a member of Toronto FC.
AS Roma announced in a press release on Thursday afternoon that they have completed Bradley’s transfer to Major League Soccer for a fee of $10 million, two times the amount that Roma paid to acquire Bradley from Chievo Verona in 2011. TFC has yet to officially comment on the transfer.
The $10 million fee is a record transfer fee paid for a player moving to MLS. It comes just five months after Clint Dempsey was acquired by the Seattle Sounders for $9 million from Tottenham. Bradley also becomes the second most-expensive American behind Jozy Altidore, who moved to Villarreal in 2008 for $10 million and to Sunderland in 2013 for a reported $13 million.
According to multiple reports in the U.S., Bradley has signed a four-year contract worth somewhere in the region of $6.5 million per season. Bradley could make his TFC debut on March 15 against Dempsey and the Sounders.
ESPNFC’s Taylor Twellman first broke the news on Twitter on Wednesday that Bradley was on the verge of moving to Toronto FC, with multiple reports confirming that Bradley was indeed in discussions about a move back to MLS. The 26-year-old American was originally in Roma’s squad for its Coppa Italia match on Thursday against Sampdoria but was removed ahead of the match.
Following the game, Roma head coach Rudi Garcia confirmed that Bradley was on his way out, and lamented the fact that he was leaving. According to some reports, Roma’s signing of midfielder Radja Nainggolan on loan with an option to buy accelerated Bradley’s attempts to leave Italy for more playing time.
“Bradley wanted to go, we couldn’t keep the player,” Garcia told reporters. “He did very well with me in these months, but I understand he wants to play more.”
What do you think of this news? Still stunned by the transfer? Amazed that TFC paid $10 million to acquire him? Excited to see him face Clint Dempsey in Bradley’s MLS return?
Share your thoughts below.
According to goal.com:
“The 26-year-old spent one and a half seasons with the Giallorossi, making 41 league appearances, including 29 starts. The American joined Roma from Chievo Verona in 2012.”
“Toronto has revamped its roster after seven disappointing seasons since becoming the first Canadian team to join the North American league. Over that span, TFC has a 51-105-56 record and has yet to reach the playoffs.”
Therefore, he went from regularly starting in a top 4 league with a top 4 team that has some of the best players in the world that will most likely be in the CL next year to a team that has as almost as many loses as ties and wins TOGETHER in it’s history in a sub-par league with no quality talent or management and this is A GOOD MOVE ON HIS PART?
This was about money and his family. End of story.
As far as soccer, his career as an athlete and the USMNT, it couldn’t be worse. How one player is suppose to raise the collective game of the MLS (at least in the next year or two) is beyond me.
Good for your pocketbook and family Mikey. They deserve it! I am happy for you and that part. The rest is just a total joke, no matter how you try to slice it.
Donovan, in spite of achieving for the National team in a way that will go down in history as one of the best ever, was scared and didn’t want to test himself against the best.
Dempsey, is a stud to be worshipped one day, and past his prime the next day.
Now Bradley is soft.
Funnier than heck. Absolutely funnier than heck.
ps. Don’t go after Altidore, there is no way he stays in the bad situation he is in. MLS will have in very quickly. Diskarud went to Europe after almost going to Portland…He is young. Great player, he is the best choice for guys that are so biased they can’t see straight.
Happy Friday. Keep me entertained. Keep whining dudes !
Interesting to think that all of the people bringing the rational side of things into the argument are the biased ones, just because they aren’t blinded by some irrational patriotism. Pot: Hey kettle, you’re black!”
I wish Houston, who according to forbes, is siting on some cash would make this kind of move.
So what does Bradley do for two months while he is waiting for his season debut. Is he going to join the USMNT in Brazil for camp and play in the match vs South Korea?
Like the Dempsey move, my first reaction was….NO EFFIN WAY! ….and I was sad. Sad because one of our best players was NOT going to be playing in Europe. Unfortunately, I’ve become a EuroSnob and didn’t even know it. Ok, I’ve known the bug was there, just didn’t see it as a problem. I’m under the premise that our best players need to be playing in Europe to produce the strongest USMNT as possible. JK wants that — so it must be solid truth. Fact is that we don’t know if there is truth to that or not. But with arguably (3) of our best players now state side we are about to find that out.
On another note, the ONLY way MLS gets stronger is by financial commitment, and in this country one of the fastest ways to booster that is with TV ratings. Bradley will bring that that in Toronto, especially with Defoe and DeRo on board.
What if TV ratings are just thought to be going up in the future ? that would give money without ratings….
Turns out, I had no idea I was a TFC fan……
People are bashing MLS way to much on this site. The overall quality of MLS is a lot higher than people give it credit for and there is a lot more talent in the league then people who only follow 1 team might not appreciate.
MLS has parity. Parity is a foreign concept in every other soccer league in the world. How many teams not named Madrid or Barcelona have won the Spanish league in the last 20 years? I think 5 teams have won the BPL with 14 titles to ManU in the last 20 years. If you took the talent in MLS and concentrated it into 2 teams, those teams would be better than teams like anderlict, Ajax, Celtic, stoke, ect.
no one wants to watch Parity League Soccer. Well, I wouldn’t say no one. Less people than watch the WNBA want to watch Parity League Soccer.
No one wants MLS to be La Liga. That league is a joke too. But you can’t have a league where you purposely weaken the product all in the name of fairness.
Have a $15 mil cap and let teams go and get the players. You’ll see a higher quality MLS. I keep repeating myself but you can’t have a quality soccer league with an NFL style cap.
Just keep repeating the same thing with no reference to reality.
Robert, If we can’t have a quality league, then why do we keep seeing post after post after post from guys whining about quality guys that are coming here ?
And that doesn’t include any posts, because the whiners are not smart enough to know, about young guys that MLS is signing and “keeping “from Europe.
I hope Bradley regains his unstoppable recklessness and motor with his return. His skill has doubled since his Italian campaign, but I sincerely miss his non-stop Tasmanian energy. Too often I see him now jog back for the man he was just beaten by.
Bradley will not miss a thing for this World Cup. 2018? Yes, that year usmnt will suffer for this move, but you never know where coach Bradley will be coaching by then…. : )
I absolutely hated this story when I first heard, but now I’m either going through the 3 rd or 5th stage of grief.
“unstoppable recklessness and motor with his return. His skill has doubled since his Italian campaign, but I sincerely miss his non-stop Tasmanian energy.”
The Italians did not double his skill. They taught him discipline and a more efficient way to play. He always had that skill but it is more evident now since he isn’t crashing around everywhere like a chicken with his head cut off.
This is a four year deal and I bet he gets out a little early and heads back to Italy to sharpen up for the 2018 World Cup. His skills should still be intact and the Italians appreciate older players. And they loved Mikey. And Italian is easy to maintain or to pick up again.
By then Mikey may have evolved into Mikey Kompany.
This doesn’t improve the quality of MLS. It diminishes it. This is $10M that could have been spent on developing numerous quality MLS players. This is $10M that could have been spent on multiple DPs. I do not fault Bradley one bit for taking a once-in-a-lifetime payday. I fault MLS for making an incredibly short-sighted move that doesn’t even make sense to me from a fan perspective (why would Bradley be that big of a draw in Canada?).
MLS had one golden season of increased attendance and television viewership when it stopped at 18 teams and played a balanced schedule. It looked for one shining moment like ownership might be getting ready to actually begin to value long-term growth over flashes in the pan. Instead, MLS has gone for the easy cash of expansion money and the gigantic expense of overspending on stars without improving the base talent level of he league. This is exactly what led to the NASL downfall (let’s also not neglect to mention the league’s increasing reliance on pyramid schemes as kit sponsors). These are not good signs.
to be fair to MLS, TFC is the one who wanted to pay $6.5M a year for Bradley. that’s the mind boggling part. MLS didn’t decide to put Bradley in Toronto. TFC said they wanted to sign Bradley and I’m sure MLS said, “no sh!+? well, we’ll kick in $10M for the transfer if Bradley agrees.”
you may still be right that $10M is too much or that it’s a waste, that’ll be a difference of opinion for sure. but given Sunderland offered that, it wasn’t going to be lower.
What is the level of quality of the MLS actually anyway? Does anyone really know? The MLS for the most part is so isolated how can you tell. Is it bottom half Eredivisie or Championship? Is it better or worse then the Jupiler Pro league? The only test MLS has is the CCL which would say it’s not quite as good as Liga MX. However there you only see the best teams and MLS has a salary cap making it difficult to compare the overall quality.
it is hard to compare because MLS is a rogue league. No other league on the planet has guys making $6 million a year playing with guys making 50k
MLS not only has a salary cap, it has a salary cap that is totally incompatible with soccer. $3 million cap + 3 DPS? How on earth could you field a quality roster under those salary rules? After the DP’s you have $2 million for the rest of the roster.
People will often point to the pay of players in MLS compared to other leagues but that’s not an exact science either as it’s not exactly a free market as we see.
it should be a free market.
hopefully it can if it can continue to grow, but considering the history of the sport in the USA and where MLS is now, with all the soccer specific stadiums and growing fan base and coverage, things are moving up
Could have been, but wasn’t. I recall a proverb about birds in hand being worth more than multiples of birds in bushes. TfC is about to have three DPs. If they spent five million instead of ten, they wouldn’t have invested the other five, it wouldn’t have been spent.
interesting comments from Klinsmann today:
thanks for the link.
one interesting comment was about Gonzo since he was never looking for a loan this offseason anyway and said so from jump street
Shift your focus from Bradley and think about the young AMERICAN kids that get to play against the likes of Bradley, Donovan, Dempsey, Martins, Henry, Cahill, Keane, Di Vaio, etc…
This is good for our league, and it will only get better. Those of you so worried about our current team and current form and current world cup are forgetting the main realization that every USMNT fan must eventually reach…”We have a long way to go”.
Damn you Drake and your recruiting skills!! damn you to hell!!!
This type of move doesn’t mean that MLS is approaching the overall quality or glamor of the top leagues, but it may be getting close enough to allow for top players, particularly American players, to start considering it. Remember, these are people we’re talking about, and they’re going to factor in things like proximity to family, familiarity of culture, and ease of raising children into their career decisions (as well as money, of course). While it’s easy for us to sit here and chastise MB for not “hacking it” in Europe, he would probably say that he hacked it well enough for a good long while. We’re not the ones who had to take that lonely road. I don’t think it’s particularly easy to be an American playing in those top leagues – you probably face a fair degree of prejudice. Thus, all things considered, perhaps MLS is rising just enough to provide a reasonable alternative for American players ready to play at home, make some cash, raise children, and leave the Eurosnobs (relatively) behind.
One other thing: let’s face it, the only way to win “respect” from other nations in soccer will be to beat them in the World Cup. More than likely we will eventually do that, no matter what Michael Bradley does. To all those who think it can’t be done, remember: we win tons of Olympic medals in sports that most people only care about once every 4 years. We do so without a state-sponsored Olympic program. By and large, many of the athletes we send to the Olympics are not our best – most of our best play big money non-Olympic sports. If we do send our best, we win by stupid margins (see: early Dream Teams). Thus, one of these years we’ll break through, despite the best efforts of the referees. It’s a gradual process, but enough interest is growing stateside to start moving in the direction of taking soccer seriously.
Maybe a step back for him, but why is everyone vieiwng it that way instead of a step forward for MLS? Domestic league getting its national players to play in it shows the domestic league is improving. A camp cupcake almost 100pct made up of MLS players would have been a joke in 96. MLS isaybe a top 20 league, but it is a hell of a lot better than it was 10 years ago and the addition of quality players like Deuce and Bradley just is a sign of continued overall league improvement. Can’t go from 20th league in the world to second best directly. Have to build it and this is the kid of signing that does that. Wish he had stuck it out but as a player and usmnt fan, but happy to see him in MLS for the leagues sake.
Because its not a step forward for MLS. It’s a step backward, or at best, sideways.
The opportunity cost is key here. That $10 million transfer fee that that huge contract is not going to improve the quality of the league. That money should be going into youth development and building up the soccer infrastructure.
And like others have been saying, MLS just doesn’t understand that quality soccer doesn’t equal a few star players playing alongside guys making 40k a year.
This is all about image. It’s not about quality. You can’t field a quality side with a very low cap +DP rule. This kind of salary cap is not compatible with soccer.
Perhaps but just speaking for myself. I live outside of DC and 2 months ago I would have had zero interest in going to to DC take on Toronto. Now I’m thinking I have to get some tickets for that.
you’ve been missing out man! ok, so we have been awful, but the games are a blast! join a supporters group (i’m in Barra Brava) and sit in those sections. tons of fun. im in CA now and i miss DCU games a lot.
MLS payed the transfer fee, not Toronto.
I really really hate this. Clubs should pay their own transfer fees.
I see a lot of comments about MLS being a step down for players because of the talent level. How to we increase that talent level without bringing in players that are more talented than what is in MLS right now?
Whoa now, that can’t happen. The best must only play in Europe in their prime.
i know what you are getting at, but that is not the point. MLS can still get to a strong level while our best players play outside MLS. look to Brazil, Holland, and Portugal for proof.
yes, MLS needs to get better and there is no denying that bringing in players like Bradley, in their prime, does help with that. but US fans who want MLS to get better don’t want it to get better because MLS teams will pay top dollar for US national team players. i want to see growth outside of that. in the youth ranks, in the depth of squads, etc. bringing in Bradley for $6.5M is not going to help with that. it helps other things, but he is ONE guy.
point is, while Bradley coming to MLS is positive and certainly helps MLS grow, the real growth should, and is, growing in other aspects of the league. it is those areas that will truly build the league. Bradley is a great add and will have a positive effect, but he can only do so much.
how do you increase the talent level? You can start by having a salary cap that is more compatible with the sport of soccer. Right now MLS has a salary cap that is compatible with the NFL and the NBA where two or three players get 80% of the wages.
Have a hard cap of $15 million and you will see teams fielding balanced rosters. You wouldn’t have League 1 and League 2 quality players in MLS. You’d have MLS clubs dipping into the South American market. You’d have better quality.
MLS is run by ex-NFL guys who just don’t understand the sport of soccer. You can’t field a quality soccer team with 3 stars and role players like you can in the NFL and NBA.
i agree the cap is where it all lies. Haji Wright is a great example of what happens when we have a low cap like this. while i disagree the sport of soccer can’t be successful in a similar business model as the NFL, i will agree it can’t remain like it is.
even keeping DP rules (which they will), and even keeping all these different “funds”, the cap needs to go up by at least 2x. i would say $7-10M by 2016. the average salary being demanded by an MLS player is going to continue to go up quickly. $142,000 isn’t gonna cut it when Liga MX is sitting at $500,000 (to be fair, their top two players only make $3M per year, so similar to the model you describe). Zusi is making DP money, which he deserves, but he is not the type of player the DP rule was made for. that to me indicates the need for the non-DP limit to be raised…which in turn requires a cap raise.
in the end, i think a traditional model would work just fine, but the NFL has proven to be a fantastic business model as well. arguably, THE best out of any LEAGUE. if they can fine tune it to soccer, i don’t see why it couldn’t work. soccer isn’t inherently “anti specific-business-model.” but i do agree the cap is now becoming the biggest issue for the league, which is of course tied to the awful TV ratings.
to be clear, i know Zusi isn’t a DP. but if not for those retention funds that showed up, he would be.
what is the NFL’s business model?
in seriousness, if you are actually interested, this is a great video which would be much more effective at explaining than i would be typing it up on here.
that video was mostly about marketing.
The NFL business plan depends on revenues from commercials during the game.
The NFL is also an isolated league with no competition.
Why would you want a soccer league to try to adapt the NFL business plan? It seems totally incompatible. If the NFL business plan worked for other sports why hasn’t the MLB adopted it?
a business model incorporates all ways the organization makes and spends money. marketing is a part of that and is therefore part of the business model as a whole.
no one is disputing that the NFL relies heavily on TV revenue (aka marketing) that comes from having so many time outs and stoppages in play. to me, it’s clear MLS is aware it cannot rely solely on TV revenue at this time and that TV revenue will probably never match NFL levels.
but they also see the success, in terms of revenue, TV rights can generate for the World Cup, EPL, Bundesliga, Mexico, Liga MX, and USMNT games. so there is some hope there.
yes, that video is heavily focused on marketing. so what? that’s a major part of a business model. cost structures are obviously similar. both the NFL and MLS make money from selling franchises and taking percentages from sales of everything NFL/MLS related.
well MLS should take from the NFL what will work in soccer. The EPL has copied the NFL when it comes to marketing and creating a family friendly environment at stadiums.
But when it comes to something like the salary cap. You cannot take a salary cap that is compatible with the NFL and then just use it in MLS. And that’s what MLS is doing.
If MLS wants to follow a business plan they should stay within their own sport and look around the globe at other successful soccer leagues.
i’m not trying to say otherwise. we agree on that. which is, taking something from a model (in this case, the NFL’s) and tweaking it to match your specific organization (MLS). i think that applies to the cap as well. sure, MLS teams can be smarter with their salary allocation than what we see in the NFL and NBA. but in the end, underneath the salary management, the function is still the same. a cap is a cap.
Hilarious seeing so many of these comments. Sure, AS Roma and Serie A were a better overall league. Maybe Bradley’s view of ambition is different then ours as his way of challenging himself may be is to put himself in a situation to lead others and improve others around him. He made a smart business decision and took it. EVENTUALLY, whether you like it or not, MLS was going to bring in good players, whether American or not, who are in their prime. Stop crying because it is in your lifetime. Stop with the MLS stinks, not good enough because no promotion/relegation, not good as other leagues arguments. It never will be promotion/relegation as the American business model is more stable and will not get teams hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and will be a gradual growth. So what if MLS doesn’t have the history of other leagues. This is history what Bradley and Dempsey have done. The “they couldn’t hack it” in other leagues argument is childish. Maybe they wanted to be closer to home. Donovan seems to be doing just fine with that model. Stop with the Klinsmann must have players playing in Europe even though so many on the national team are from MLS. Americans will go to Europe and Americans will play in MLS. Nothing wrong with that. Bradley spent 10 years in Europe already. He’s a trailblazer for MLS. I doubt he will have any trouble with the national team as he has been to plenty of camps and games. These players are professionals and definitely know what is expected. Face it, we’re not professionals, and do not know what is best for these individual players.
Most of the objections to this and the Dempsey move are variations on the theme of “In order to be the best you have to train with and against the best, day in and day out.”
Humor me for a moment… what is the actual evidence that this is always true for all players? Or even mostly true for most players? Please, no more conventional wisdom or personal opinion. If this is so obviously true there surely are studies that back it up – I’d like some references. I am not aware of anyone who has tested this hypothesis with real data in a systematic way.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and some opinions are more informed than others. But on this subject,unless you have actual data to point to, let’s call them what they are, opinions not established fact. And in the process, cut a break for players whose opinions of their own career prospects, which they know better than any of us haunting these discussions, happen to differ from the conventional wisdom. e.g., Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Omar, Goodson, Besley, Zusi, ….
This guy checked it out for his thesis: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&ei=Xf_PUryiEKuhsAT8oIHoCw&url=http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/1125/1/Cooke_10_PhD.pdf&cd=24&ved=0CDMQFjADOBQ&usg=AFQjCNGS3I3zjanjteqt0AYYAk83YvAVFg&sig2=rx5CLe73oL1n2K-8C4wXKg
+ 1000 for unearthing a thesis.
Now if we could all cite our sources…
I was initially disappointed when I heard of this move. Bradley might be the most accomplished American player abroad at this point, and his team at Roma were looking particularly promising. I had dreams of watching him in the Champions League next year. But alas….
I think this shows a promising trend though in MLS. What a major step forward. I know people like to rag on the TV ratings and the salary cap, but it’s nearly impossible to argue the upward growth of this league. Look at the American and foreign talent they are bringing in. Look at the stream of clubs, cities and investors that want to be one of the 24 teams by the end of the decade. Beckham is getting a dream team of investors together to bring a team into a failed market!
Internet message board posters like to tear the league down, but increasingly players and billionaires are buying into it in a big way. Is this a turning point for MLS? Are we seeing it slowly become big-time right in front of our eyes?
Starting line up this summer is pretty clear
Shea Johannsson Bedoya
Fabian Cameron Brooks Lichaj
No MLS allowed
Look, Bradley had to choose between playing every minute for a weaker club or possibly sit almost every game for one of the top clubs in Europe. He was now #5 on the depth chart at Roma in the midfield. Going into a World Cup, you’d rather be playing consistently (even if it is for a weaker team) than not playing much at all. Bradley has been in Europe for 12 years, he has a young kid, he’s married….does anyone think he is going to play at a club bigger than Roma? Where is he going to go? Barcelona? Juventus? Man City? That’s not going to happen.
Bradley’s move back to MLS strengthens the league and makes it more attractive to other quality players. Is it the best career move for Bradley? Probably not, but it seems like guys like Dempsey and Bradley see MLS growing with a lot of momentum and want to be part of taking the league to the next level. It also adds more weight to the argument that unless you are getting consistent minutes in Europe, you might as well stay at home and play all the time in MLS. Players want to be on the field, not on the bench. Dempsey and Bradley have probably sacrificed part of their career to come back to MLS but in the bigger picture, this is beneficial to the development of MLS and soccer overall in the US. Besides, Bradley and Dempsey are locks for Brazil next summer whether they are in Europe rotting on the bench or playing in MLS. Who else is out there that Klinsmann would take over them?
LACK OF DESIRE FOR USMNT?
Our team has heart, no denying that…but now the THREE best players for the national team are choosing to play in an inferior league. And I like MLS, but you can’t deny that its a step down from the best leagues in Europe. In the last few months, our team captain and our most important player have come back to MLS. Throw in Donovan who, let’s be honest, hasn’t pushed himself to play abroad as much as he could in the last few years, and you officially have a trend. Look, i’ve never said our team doesn’t have heart, but DESIRE and willingness to get to the top (and more importantly stay there) is sorely lacking by our best players and that folks…as a USMNT fan first…is seriously troubling. I’m very disappointed.
This might actually encourage more European teams to take chances on young Americans now that they know MLS is willing to foolishly overspend to bring American players back.
Wait a second…what happens if a player does not work out? Would the European team hold out for foolish offer from the MLS then another who is willing to pay less in transfer fees. I think that is in part what happened with Jozy. AZ went for the largest offer from Sunderland when 1 or two other teams were interested for less. I know the player has to agree, but pressure can be applied.
I don’t like it, i don’t like it , i don’t like it…..i don’t like it, i don’t like it, i don’t like it……repeat, repeat……
American players are soft. It’s one thing to play in teams like Fulham and Everton but when the time comes to fight day in and day out for a spot on a top team they run home with their tail between their legs.
You can say it’s about the money all day long but at the end of the day we all know they just didn’t have the balls to succeed in a big team so they went home where they can be stars even before they step on the field.
whoa whoa whoa, if there is one thing Bradley has proven it is that he is NOT soft. he went to Holland as a teenager, fought hard and won a starting spot. then goes to the Bundesliga, fights hard, becomes a regular starter. when he loses that spot, he goes to the EPL to try and fight for a spot. then he goes back to Gladbach to a coach that didn’t really like him, and guess what? he won his spot back. then he moves to Verona and wins a spot there. plays well enough to then get bought by Roma…where he fought for a spot but figured with the WC a few months away, he should look elsewhere given Roma’s midfield depth. you may think that last part makes him soft, but i don’t.
Nonsense. There is a long history of players from many countries leaving top leagues to go back home and play in their domestic leagues. It’s not unique to American players, not by a long shot. Bradley and Dempsey have battled for starting roles on Euro squads for years. They have both shown more than enough “balls,” and certainly neither of these players could be called “soft.” Get over your absurd Eurosnobbery already.
There really could be something to what you are saying.
I don’t like to think of my boys like that, but I have to reconsider. Maybe Bradley just didn’t have what it takes.
Thanks for pointing this out, although the tone was a bit rough.
lets face it, Kljestan is better then Bradley and has to start over him next summer
other teams wanted him, he CHOSE to shine them, not the other way around, right?
correct. Sunderland, we know, wanted him back in August so no doubt they made a play for him this time too. no doubt he would have started in that midfield either.
ESPNFC’s German and Italian writers have both stated he had options in the Bundesliga and Serie A, including teams he would likely have started on no problem.
the difference is the salary. no way he makes half of what TFC are giving him if he stayed in Europe. if he was at $1.1M, maybe he would get himself $2M elsewhere. ESPNFC, as i’m typing this, confirming this was the kicker.
so Bradley has what it takes evidently and was wanted. Earned that position and chose his move. good for him
I’m not going to stand here while you bad mouth the United States of America. Gentlemen…