MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

It’s a January MLS – Big 5, and that can only mean one thing, player movement. So let’s get to it.

1) Jozy Altidore Comes Home – Well Sort of

Settle down, I know that Toronto is in Canada. I meant Major League Soccer, the league where Altidore got his professional start as a 16 year old with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.

The U.S. number one striker will join fellow U.S. national teamer Michael Bradley in Canada, and no I can’t imagine coach Jurgen Klinsmann is feeling too good about it.

Jozy Altidore will be hoping he can get back to being a starting player and getting on the score sheet.  (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Jozy Altidore will be hoping he can get back to being a starting player and getting on the score sheet. (ISI Photos/John Todd)

Klinsmann previously made it clear that he was unhappy that Bradley and Clint Dempsey (Seattle) had brought their talents to MLS from Europe, and there is little reason to believe he feels differently about Altidore’s return.

Still, even Klinsmann would concede that the striker desperately needed out of Sunderland. Now it is up to Altidore to score goals, restore his reputation, and prove that his game will not be diminished by this career move.

2) Defoe Goes to Sunderland

One unusual aspect of the Altidore move is that it comes as part of a North American style trade, rather than as a traditional soccer transfer.

Defoe returns to.(ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

Defoe returns to the EPL.(ISI Photos/Nick Turchiaro)

In essence Toronto and Sunderland traded strikers, with no money changing hands. It was this time last year that Defoe and Bradley were announced as the answers to TFC’s long running problems. A somewhat obnoxious PR campaign called the whole thing “A Bloody Big Deal.”

Well Defoe struggled with injury, Bradley struggled for form after the World Cup, and Toronto did what they have done in every other year of its existence to date. TFC missed the playoffs.

Have Toronto gotten it right this time?

3) TFC Add Giovinco From Juventus

It turns out that swapping Altidore for Defoe was not Toronto’s only big move of the off season. No, the aggressive Canadian franchise made another splash by signing Juventus and Italian national team attacker Sebastian Giovinco to a Designated Player contract.

With four DP’s on the books TFC will have to jettison one before opening day. The Brazilian Gilberto is the obvious favorite to be moved or un-DPed.

Sebastian Giovinco (L) has 21 caps for Italy. (Getty Images)

Sebastian Giovinco (L) has 21 caps for Italy. (Getty Images)

Known as La Formica Atomica, or the Atomic Ant, the 5’5” Giovinco immediately ups the league’s nickname game. If reports are to be believed, Giovinco also goes to the top of the league’s salary list, with a yearly salary of $7 million being quoted.

That figure has raised some hackles in Italy, but if TFC wants to pony up the big bucks for a 27 year old Italian international, well why not. Yes, Giovinco was spending time on the Juve bench, but he is a talented young veteran with offers across Europe.

Emphasizing his new signings age and resume, Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko called the move “a turning point for the league.”

The GM could be right, but only if players of similar age and pedigree follow Giovinco to our shores. If other MLS teams are willing to hand out $7 million a year salaries, I suspect that they might.

4) NYC FC in the Mix

In a move that preceded Toronto’s flurry of big money moves, New York City FC added U.S. international Mix Diskerud to its growing season one roster.

Diskerud  NYC FC.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Diskerud has been added to NYC FC roster.(ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Eager to make up for the Frank Lampard fiasco, the Big Apple expansion side brought in the stylish Norwegian-American on a non-DP contract. It looks like a good bit of business for the moneybags Manchester City owned club. As a player the creative midfielder should do well in MLS. And with his quirky personality Mix should be a hit in NYC.

5) SuperDraft – Part 2

Is it still a “Super” Draft if it is held via conference call days after the first two rounds were held live in Philadelphia? Who knows, but the league’s 20 clubs selected a total of 42 additional players in today’s sequel to Thursday’s main event.

MLS Coaches at the /(ISI Photos)

MLS Coaches at the SuperDraft (ISI Photos/Jose Argueta)

Many of these players will never play a minute in the league, although more than a few will be counted on to fill out rosters on MLS owned or affiliated teams in the USL Pro league.

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *