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TFC confirm Bradley signing, introduce him and Defoe at press conference

Michael Bradley

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When Michael Bradley stepped on the stage at Real Sports Bar and Grill in Toronto, it was confirmation that his $10 million transfer to Toronto FC was complete.

The 26-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team starter was introduced to media and fans on Monday morning alongside fellow Designated Player signing Jermain Defoe at a press conference set up by TFC. The news follows TFC’s DP signing of Brazilian forward Gilberto.

“To be part of this project in this city, to help bring a winning team you can all be proud of, I’ve never been more excited or more motivated in my entire career,” Bradley said at the press conference.

In addition to the Bradley signing, TFC have agreed to a long-term partnership with AS Roma, with the Italian club playing two friendlies at BMO Field in the next six years and a “player development program” for TFC players to train in Rome.

“To acquire a star midfielder like Michael Bradley, seen by many as the top American player in the world, alongside a premier striker in Jermain Defoe, makes this a groundbreaking day for Toronto FC and for Major League Soccer,” Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke said in a club statement. “We have worked hard this off-season to deliver a winning team to our fans and I would like to thank AS Roma and MLSE ownership for their commitment and support. This is an exciting day for Toronto FC fans and we can’t wait to start the season.”

Bradley’s move to TFC ends an eight-year stay in Europe, where he played in the Netherlands, England, Germany, and Italy. Bradley transferred from the MetroStars to Dutch club Herenveen at the end of the 2005 calendar year, staying in Holland until 2008. From there, the USMNT midfielder went to Borussia Mönchengladbach, where he spent three years, including a half-season loan to Aston Villa in the English Premier League.

In 2011, Bradley moved to Chievo in Serie A and following a strong season, AS Roma bought the son of Bob Bradley to their club. This past season under new head coach Rudi Garcia, Bradley had found himself in an even tougher competition for a place in the first team, with five central midfielders all fighting for three places in Garcia’s 4-3-3 formation.

Meanwhile, Defoe’s move to TFC is not only the first time that he’s playing for a club outside of England, but only the third time ever that he’ll play for a club outside of London. After moving from Charlton to the West Ham United youth academy, the England National Team forward spent three and a half seasons there before moving to Tottenham in 2004, staying there for eight years in total. Defoe spent a calendar year with Portsmouth in 2008 before returning to Tottenham.


  1. lulzing hard at people that think that playing in the mls for 4 months will undo his entire life of playing/skills in the WC.

  2. I like his answer, he wants to be a leader he wants to be apart of something that will stay with him forever. Some of you think his move was a cop out but thats ridiculous the cop out would have been to stay ride the bench and get really good seats for Champions league. Playing is better than watching.

  3. So why is Bradley not joining up with the USMNT for their January camp right now? Being one of our best players you would think he would join up with the squad.

  4. Here is link to an incredibly softball interview in which Bradley explains his decision to Grant Wahl and says absolutely nothing interesting or revealing. Actually, toward the very end, he does say something unique. He reveals that he would have included Phillip Lahm on his Ballon D’Or candidates , saying “honestly, I put a lot of weight on winning things”

    Oh. Okay then. Says the guy who has never one a solitary trophy outside of the 2007 Gold Cup, and is leaving a team near the top of Serie A for a rubbish MLS team that has never won anything at all.

    I love MB. Our best player, no doubt. But he has a lot left to prove if he wants to be remembered. Hopefully, he makes a statement this summer. If not, at least there’s the money.

  5. “I’ve never been more excited or more motivated in my entire career,”

    …REALLY?? you’re more motivated to play for a Canadian MLS team, than you were for Roma? hmm…maybe that’s how this mess all started.

  6. I’m going to subscribe to MLS DIRECT KICK IMMEDIATELY!!!!!….hahahahaha.

    I am, for sure, this year (if it continues to exist).

  7. TV revenue is what drives the success of the Premier League. When MLS TV rights become much more valuable than they are now, you will see MLS teams open their purses and the quality of the soccer will improve. Of course TV revenue probably won’t increase drastically until viewership rises so there is some need to grow viewership, which will not happen unless the perception of MLS as a 2nd tier league is changed. Hence Beckham, Bradley, Dempsey, Defoe and other deals to raise the perception of the league.

    I hope the “single entity” thing dies fairly soon and that the model becomes one more like the NFL; TV revenue is the only thing I can see driving the economics that will permit the continued salary increases needed to attract the soccer talent.

    Ticket revenue for a team are pretty much capped somewhere below 20 games times 25000 tickets/game times $50/ticket or $25 million. (Present averages are less than 18000 tickets/game and less than $30 /ticket. US Open Cup, etc. can increase the average number of games to maybe 50/2) While that could raise the present average salary in the MLS significantly when coupled with other income sources, only a few teams will realize that kind of income from ticket sales. Beckham earned about $50 million/year from all sources (about 1/6 of the MLS ticket sales revenue in 2011) The average MLS salary was about $150,000 in 2011 with 380 players in the league that comes to about $58 million. Clearly even quadrupling ticket revenue will not make the kind of change that is needed to both pay stars and raise the base salary significantly.

    • Dennis, the TV money already went up dramatically, you were right about one thing though, and maybe only one thing, MLS opened up its pocketbook.

  8. Good for Bradley Cakes. He’s at his prime but frankly even he realizes his prime is barely good enough to be a bench warmer at Roma.
    Better to take the money now because it’s all downhill from here and that kind of deal is never coming his way again.

    • True but lets be honest Roma’s midfield of De Rossi, Strootman, Pjanic is one of the best in the World. I’m looking forward to everyone saying he should have stayed once Strootman or Pjanic are sold as it seems to be rumored every day.

  9. Toronto has 4 DPs. Said this a week ago when the new first broke and got called a moron by some idiotic posters on this website. I will say it again, MLS is bush league. The league makes moves, then makes up rules to cover its *** after the fact.

    Where are those posters at today with words trying to defend this crap? One of those DPs should have been gone before 2 of them could be officially introduced? What will the new rule be, Garber?

  10. With Dempsey, Defoe, Bradley, CD9 and now Parkhurst mixing it up with USMNT players Zusi, Johnson, Evans, Beckermen and Donovan, its going to be very interesting to see how they impact the league with their level of play (Haven’t been impressed yet with Deuce). I’m going to subscribe to MLS DIRECT KICK IMMEDIATELY!!!!!….hahahahaha. Now I wish Freddy Adu, Maurice Edu, Zak Whitbread, Bornstein (Yes big B…hahahaha) and Onyewu (yes, leave Sheffield Wednesday…lol) would quit playing around, even riding pine and join DC UNITED…..

      • Me thinks it’s either Chivas (if they really, really, really mean it about this turnaround talk this time) or San Jose that can pull this off on the West Coast right now.

      • He has a house in LA, so he’ll probably push for Chivas (since LA doesn’t have an open slot). Honestly, looking at the improvements Chivas have made (albeit haphazardly), they could have a solid team if JJ ends up there.

  11. I have loved and followed MLS from the very beginning. I can recall in it’s short history spending the off season taking pride to see an MLS player either rumored, associated with or actually transferred to ANY kind of team in Europe. The highlight of the long, boring off seasons used to be the Combine and the Draft(s). Now to witness MLS paying to bring quality into the league – this is one heck of an off season for me and it’s makes me a proud fan of a league that I have followed and stuck with through the ugly times. To be brutally honest I knew this day would come but I never thought it would be so soon.

    Love it or hate it, this league has made some amazing improvements in its very short existence, which gives me great assurance that it will be much, much better in the next 5 to 10 years. Fans will bicker about the league’s perceived rankings, “quality”, and respect but the people who play the game have come to recognize what MLS is doing and, as is evident right now, appreciate it for what it is and what it is soon to become.

    There is still work to be done, as there will always be, but right now I am really enjoying this off season.

  12. I will only say this as a USMNT fan: Lenhart, Collin? I’M WATCHING YOU. If do anything to the Midfield Bald Eagle, so help me…

  13. That collective groan you just heard is the sound of another Bradley/Jones turnover in Brazil as we crash out of the group with an out-of-form midfield.

    The game is just different in the better leagues in Europe. It’s not all down to one reason, but it’s just faster, sharper, and the chances vanish quicker. You need that edge to compete at the international level and we are quickly losing the only guys we have sharp enough to perform at that level. Our best product is struggling, and behind him are guys who aren’t exactly playing the top flight game. This is very discouraging for me as an international fan.

    As an MLS fan, I’m also pretty bummed out by the fact that instead of drawing in developmental talent we are poaching our own internationals on inflated deals. We need to up the general level of play to help our products develop alongside other young internationals, not go after names at the expense of the national team. I understand a “box office” signing, but that’s not Michael Bradley. Training at Roma is a higher level of competition than MLS.

    • This might be the one time ever that I will be in nearly complete with one of your posts. And I will add that watching Clint struggle Saturday with Fulham against Jozy and Sunderland was painful and I can’t help but blame the move last August back to MLS. I fear we will never again see the magic of Clint Dempsey that we have loved the past few years. That said, Clint has made a career out of proving his detractors wrong and I will gladly eat crow if Clint scores four or five goals for Fulham between now and end of February and then another three or four this summer in Brazil.

    • Brett, if you don’t believe that MLS is bringing in development talent… really have no clue what you are talking about.

    • Sorry, no offense here, but a guy playing week in and week out in the MLS is going to be in better form than a guy sitting on the bench or training in Europe. He’s coming to North America as a DP, will play an awful lot and be in prime shape going into the World Cup, something you cannot say if he stayed at Roma.

      And by the sounds of it, the only other clubs really looking at Bradley were sides in danger of relegation. That’s not exactly a strong situation to be going into.

      We can dump on the quality of the MLS, but at the end of the day, we should want the best North American players playing in their primes on this continent. The quality of the competition and the interest in the product will grow accordingly if those players feel they can make a good living here. The very fact that Bradley, regardless of the reasons came back has committed his prime years to the MLS should be taken as a vote of confidence.

      I believe the negativity surrounding this move ultimately has to do with his final destination rather than the fact he’s back here. I think the tone would be a lot different if he was suiting up for a big American team rather than Toronto FC.

      But if we can see the forest for the trees for a minute: TFC for years has been a top supported club that had a management and ownership group that took them (us) for granted. They abused the goodwill of the fans by putting an unfocused lousy product on the field. And despite the fact that TFC is up here in Canada, it should be in the interest of all soccer fans in North America that all the teams in the league work hard to build winners and maintain strong relationships with their fanbases. It would kill me as a soccer fan if in 3 or 4 years the enthusiasm in Seattle or Portland eroded. That is what is happening up in Toronto and it is in the interest of nobody to see it continue.

      Toronto has a market and an ownership that can bear these costs and it is a fantastic development for the league, Toronto and the TFC fanbase.

      • + 1

        Thanks Mark H and thanks to all the TFC the fans who showed up at that presser this morning. I am not a TFC fan (DC United here) but I was just as proud as you lot this morning and recognized that event as a HUGE win and gain for our league.

        It’s gonna be an awesome season!

      • I don’t think it’s because it’s a Canadian team that has so many Americans in a tizzy about this (though I do think it has something to do with it — TFC has just not impressed as of late). But look at how we all exploded at Dempsey at Seattle. For the most part, a lot of people see this as a step backward in his development, prioritizing money and playtime over quality and fewer risks of serious injury.

        Plus, if he manages to make it out of the pre-season and early season without injury, he’ll be out for World Cup duty, so it’s all a bit incongruous to us.

      • TFC have been awful because they have avoided making these types of moves. They have paid probably over the odds for two game changers on contracts whose terms basically spell that out. But it is also a necessity if they intend to win back the fan base. Honestly its amazing that they still averaged over 18,000 in attendance last season.

        And lets think long term here. While it is a benefit when top US players ply their trade in top leagues in the short term, it is vital to the long term prospects of the league, the game in North America and both the Canadian and US national teams that the MLS continues to grow to the point that beyond the money it is a viable destination for our top talent. Short term maybe it doesn’t help the USMNT that Bradley decided to take an offer in MLS, but guys like that coming back improve the quality of the league so that attendance improves, so the TV contract gets bigger so there is more money for teams to invest in their operations and players, maybe have enough presence that high calibre athletes gravitate towards soccer instead of football and repeat that cycle. I’m an Premier League guy, fully invested, but I would prefer our best players are back here, playing on our patches week in week out so when I do go to the game or watch the television I’m seeing the best players in North America and not just the guys who are not good enough (or good enough yet) for Europe. If the ultimate goal is competing for the World Cup (For the US, making it for Canada) then our pro league has to be top class. To worry about 2014 and a World Cup that is likely going to be won by one of 5 nations is myopic.

      • Keep dreaming. If anything this looks like the USMNT players aren’t hacking it in competitive leagues and coming home for money. Attendance-wise I doubt an American international will cause the crowds to fill the stands in Toronto (Defoe and Drake’s job probably), and Bradley doesn’t have the draw that Dempsey has. And those TV contracts won’t improve considering all the attention the PL is getting on NBC Sports.

        It’s just a bad move. You may not care about WC performance since Canada didn’t qualify but it is important. It helps define careers and inspire new ones. Great advertisement for the sport and Concacaf if Bradley gets sidelined due to injury because of our league’s physicality and the US gets screwed in an already terrible group.

  14. I still don’t believe it. Why would Michael Bradley leave Roma making 1.5M/yr. to play for TFC making 6.5/yr. (guaranteed for 6 years)? It makes no sense! : )

  15. So how soon until Sasha Kljestan returns? Maurice Edu? Aaron Johanssen? I mean, why not? Only our goalkeepers were ever respected in Europe. Only our goalkeepers should stay. Everyone else – come on back!

    • I wondering if Kljestan kind of sees an opening into the starting lineup with Bradley coming to MLS and Jones in club limbo. Not saying he is better then either but probably has had a better year.

      • Maybe a year ago, but at this point I would say they are both pretty set. MB is pretty crucial to our set-up and JJ made googly eyes at Klinsy a while back and now Jurgen is smitten. Neither one are in danger of missing out.

      • Not so sure about that, SilverRey. Probably, but anything can happen between now and May, when the roster is named. Klinsmann wants to make it out of group bad and I think and hope that he will have the guts to axe his fave JJ if JJ is not performing and likewise MB, if MB’s form would slide. I would imagine that JK sees MB’s move to Toronto is sort of a slap in the face and would make it a bit easier for JK to snub him, if not from the full roster then from a starting position and probably enjoy pairing JJ with someone other than MB. . Everyone knows the US player pool is stacked with good midfielders and there are some young guys breathing down the necks of both JJ90-YYR and mikey-cakes.

      • I think JJ has been largely under-appreciated… a workhorse and source of stability throughout qualifying. That said, I think he is more at risk of dropping on the depth chart than MB. Other than as a result of injury, I just can’t see it/his form dipping enough for anyone to be replacing Bradley before Brazil. Who in our pool has the combination of calm, accurate passing and bite… can cover the same ground as Bradley?

    • Kljestan? He’s one of the last Yanks I’d expect back soon. He just signed a 3 year extension last March and he’s a regular starter. He’s also played Champs League and Anderlecht may end up in CL again.

  16. The question is, now that Toronto open their wallet, besides red bull or galaxy, or even sounders, which team is next.
    Red bull has a DP open but with their delusional coach, good luck. I heard they are after Xavi, is that truth.
    Galaxy have 3 dps, just like sounders with their Alonso signing which is funny.
    I just don’t get it how big markets don’t get dps that fit their market. For instance, Dallas and Houston can have the dps from South America or top mexican talent.
    Another thing, MLS needs to give European or South Americans top soccer players tours of MLS cities, besides LA and NY getting the attention.

    • In a perfect world, yes, signing DPs that fit a region’s fan-base identity should be the norm. But signing a DP in the real world involves waaaay more than just that. You’re getting into a huge financial commitment with someone from anywhere between 3 – 5 years. That person has to buy into the league, buy into the team, like the city, make sense financially, work well with the team’s goals and identity, etc. There’s a lot that happens here and I believe this takes a lot of hard work to pull off successfully – otherwise your just getting another merc who’s here to take the money and run (or go on holiday).

      • Actually Schelotto loved Columbus and the relative anonymity and safety it gave him after not being able to walk down the street in Argentina.

        Reading him talk about CLB it was like he was in a fantasyland where everyone was so nice and safe.

    • Petke? Delusional? You’re kidding. He’s been the most even-keeled coach we’ve had and we’ve got a Supporter’s Shield to prove it. The Xavi and Drogba rumors are probably nothing. Both Petke and Roxburgh have said that they’re looking for a younger player.

      Why talk about signing South Americans or Europeans anyway who don’t want to sign anywhere other than the glamor cities? Start investing more in American and Canadian players, who already make obscenely low salaries anyway.

  17. I really think this DP rule needs to be reviewed. Up the slots or get rid of it. By this time I think all clubs owners know what they can and can’t afford.

    • I agree with the review part of it, but we do need it or something like it to prevent runaway-superclub-banckruptcy problems. Maybe the answer is getting rid of DPs and just upping the cap (which I think happens with the new alleged TV deal) significantly and/or paying win bonuses. There’s some solution somewhere there in the middle.

    • “The club owners know what they can’t afford?” You do realize you’re dealing with megalomaniacal oligarchs, right? Most of the clubs in Europe are deeply in debt. Soccer in the US is still too much of a fringe sport to risk operating under the “projected growth” model that broke-as-hell-but-noone-talks-about-it clubs like Barça et al employ. In ten years? Maybe. In twenty? Very likely. But for now, the DP rule – and, more importantly, the salary cap – must stay.

      • I strongly support the salary cap. However, parity in MLS is almost at insane levels. Only about 3-4 teams were out of the playoff race at the end of the season. That’s a good thing, but also it shows there is some room for raising the salary cap. One of the worst teams last year was Toronto FC, which has plenty of money, so that wasn’t their problem. DC United is not a small market either. A small market team like Columbus may struggle a bit more, but they will still be able to make the playoffs in a good year.

    • It’s time for a fourth DP, but I think TFC just exhibited why the DP rule needs to stay in place. TFC, Seattle, LA, and New York would almost certainly outspend the other 15 clubs by a long shot. And once NYCFC and Beckham’s team start playing, all bets are off. We need to keep it limited, but as I said, it’s time for a fourth.

      • And why would allowig successful clubs spend more money on talent be such a big problem? It’s not like the incompetent owners’ clubs (we know who they are) will get relegated.

      • No, it’s just that we’ll have no more league. But I know you knew that and just wanted to make that pro/rel argument.

      • Full disclosure: I’m an LA fan, so I would be over the moon if Garber suddenly said, “Free for all!” But that won’t happen. It’d be detrimental to the MLS/American sports model of parity.

        The beauty of MLS is that any team can win in any given season. By extension, any fan can support a winning club in any given season. Hell, look at “lowly” TFC. I have to put lowly in quotes now because they’re no longer the bottom-feeders they’ve been from day one. They made changes that should get them to the playoffs and maybe beyond. By the same token, LA is not a dynasty. We won back-to-back championships, but because Bruce is limited by the DP rule, he had to choose between rewarding Omar and buying something shiny. That’s why the DP rule is still necessary.

  18. I am wondering what effect Toronto signing mikey-cakes will have on the chances of Jermaine Jones getting a lucrative MLS contract, and actually, whether news that Jones was going to leave Schalke, which came several days before Taylor Twellman’s MB tweet, might have all snowballed behind the scenes into MB’s move back to MLS. Most accounts have suggested that the MB move was put on the table only a coulple of days before it was finalized. So is it possible that the potential of JJ moving back got the MB-to-MLS ball rolling?

    In my mind, Jones is the big loser here, because I think his value to the MLS is going to be far, far less now with mikey-cakes back home. Does that sound right? Or would Jones’s MLS value not be effected by MB’s move? Jones’s smartest move now IMO would be to move to Sunderland and play with Jozy and win the hearts of USMNT fans and then try a move to MLS after the World Cup.

    • I don’t think that his value is going to be affected. Given his age and the fact that many USMNT fans have always questioned why he is such a shoe-in starter, I think his value to MLS teams will be mostly his quality (which has not taken a hot last week of course) as opposed to mostly off-the-field considerations. I think he is worth $1.5mm per year or so to some teams like DC, Chicago, and several others. He is not getting $5mm from anyone in MLS, I think.

    • MLS, or in your case MLS-cakes did an extensive analysis of this a while back. JJ’s position is one that you can get for much cheaper in MLS right now. I am not saying that guys like Beckerman or Alonso are anywhere near as good as JJ but they do what they do well for the league’s level of play and that’s just fine by many teams as they can allocate precious cap dollars to other more technical areas on the field. A guy with JJ’s pedigree is going to call for top dollars and that’s hard to fit into a cap when you are looking for top class strikers and attacking mids – which is where DP money tends to go.

      So I don’t see how one has anything to do with the other – but it did give you a chance to say mikey-cakes. Who says there is no “relegation” in MLS? 🙂

      • Again, I don’t have a very good understanding of the MLS wage and DP structure. But it would seem to me that the law of diminishing returns will come into play here. In other words, clint-cakes and mikey-cakes are getting in on the ground floor as the first USMNT players to come back from Europe for DP contracts, and they both are being paid royally for this honor. But it might be that the next wave of USMNT players coming back home will not get the great deals the Clint and MB got. And that is why I think it is possible that Jones will not get as lucrative a deal now as he might have gotten had he beaten MB in a move to MLS.

      • There is some merit to your point but I don’t see it as that linear. It’s value for money. If JJ was a striker banging in the goals left and right he makes the money – easy. But he plays defensive mid (again, I do not want to understate his abilities and value to any team here) which is a position that MLS and the US does a decent job of producing – in the case of MLS the guys who work that part of the field work well. So, using economics as you did, it’s basic supply and demand – in a tight salary capped world. So I still have a hard time linking the soon to be JJ-cakes (in your world 🙂 ) to anything that relates to mikey-cakes and clint-cakes.

        I am sure if Altidore wanted to pick up the hyphenated name right now he’d have some serious cash thrown his way regardless of who was here first.

  19. Bez said they’re working him and hope to keep him. H e said according to league rules they don’t have to be compliant for a while and they are trying to fit him in to the squad.


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