Friday, January 16, 2015

Aaaand that is that.

Sunderland have announced both the signing of Jermain Defoe and the departure of Jozy Altidore to Toronto FC. It will ruffle some feathers, but I am not even slightly happy about this.

I also highly question the logic of SAFC giving a 32-year-old forward a three-and-a-half year deal at a reported £80,000 a week. It probably would have been a better idea just to pretend the team had any interest in serving their strikers. Well, at least Defoe won't slow Sunderland down with any of that silly team play.

- Greg Seltzer


Mark said...

Greg, Can you give some reasoning for why you're not happy? Also, maybe what you thought the better option for Jozy was?

Zach said...

I don't have to watch Sunderland games anymore, I am happy.

Greg Seltzer said...

Mark, I think it might be a lot shorter for you to list a reason why anyone would be happy with how this entire episode went and ended. Having your top NT striker return to the lesser home league at 25, and surely in a deal that makes it hard for him to get back up the league ladder for a few years, is about as far from ideal as you can get, much less when so many will now pretend this means Americans cannot hack it at/in (insert insult category here). I could go on, but that is plenty of URGH already.

dikranovich said...

I swear I think some people are stuck in a 1999 frame of mind.

This is a great move for more than a couple of reasons:

1. Let's not just gloss over the fact that this move pairs bradley and altidore. That is huge, and please, don't try telling me it's not.

2. Toronto made some serious moves and they are going to contend. There should be little doubt about that. That means champions league games against Mexican teams and more competition.

3. Nothing is more key for a striker than confidence and that leads to being in form. EJ is an obvious example of a player coming back from Europe and excelling.

4. Jozy will excel in MLS, and that is good for Jozy, Toronto, and the national team. It's not going to be good for the other teams in the league however.

This is really even a childish conversation, the idea that fans should have a problem with a player returning to his home league. At any age, this should always be a welcome addition.

Unknown said...

Why do you care what the perception of American players in Europe is? Bradley did well for many years, Dempsey did well for many years, Bedoya is doing well, Bocanegra did well, McBride, Harkes, Ramos, Reyna all did well etc.... It doesn't matter how many players do well; there will always be a stigma attached to American players. I for one am happy Altidore is coming back to MLS. A strong USMNT needs a strong domestic league. I think people just have this weird pride issue with Americans in Europe. In that I mean a deadly sin type of pride. I think fans are more concerned about winning arguments with other fan bases about the amount of players in Europe. Now that said players are either coming to MLS for the first time or returning to MLS, fans don't have ammunition for their arguments.

I welcome any USMNT player to MLS.

dikranovich said...

The first tangable proof the move is positive. Jozy has been added to the men's team camp.

tom said...


Unknown said...

Danny Boy,

Please copy and paste your post on every discussion involving Altidore.


When you drop KRS-One levels of reason on a conversation, it almost make me forget that you are a complete maniac. I think your point about Bradley and Jozy training together everyday is especially well taken, as well as your note about confidence.


I am curious how you think MLS defending compares to defending in the Eredivisie? Not intended as a gotcha, simply a question from one seeking understanding. Obviously neither of them are EPL quality.

Tony M said...

dik: Someone else using your handle here? You have been making sense lately. I agree with you.

I do understand Greg's frustration for the whole sequence of events. Bottom line: he should never have gone to Sunderland. I wish he'd gone to Italy myself. But once we reached THIS point, I am happy with the move

Freegle said...

The other side of the argument is...

1) This move strengthens the MLS in terms of marketing but paying a good-great player elite money is not sound for business. Jozy doesn't sell nearly as many tickets as WINNING does and that 6 million could have been used to bring real depth to a club and establish a winning atmosphere instead of a media firestorm. What would you rather have, one 6 million dollar player who is overpaid or six 1 million dollar players who are appropriately paid?

2)There is one more thing that is more important for a striker than confidence and that is sharpness. Jozy does not need any more confidence. He knows he can own CONCACAF foes with sheer athleticism. He needs sharpness and that comes from fighting to play every day against defenders that are great. As of right now, Jozy knows that he will start every game for the length of his contract as long as he is healthy. That breeds complacency, the enemy of sharpness.

3) Perception in Europe is a bigger factor that you let on, even for MLS. First, you're simply being naïve if you think playing in the top 4 leagues in Europe doesn't develop a player more than MLS. Second, how many USMNTers have to fail before teams simply say "they can't hack it" or worse, "theyre not worth it" (in comparison to an Asian or African player)and we miss an opportunity for our players to develop? Stereotypes, unfair or not, are usually based in some evidence and I'd prefer our players not perpetuate those stereotypes and cost future Americans potential opportunities.

4)Finally, these episodes will negatively effect the transfer fees MLS can get for the players they sell. Less money equals less development. No matter what he does in MLS now, do you think any European team would be fooled into paying what Villareal did for Jozy again? If he is successful in MLS, it may hurt league credibility even more in term of "league strength." That trickles down to all potential transfers, which are a big money maker for the league. Less money = less everything else.

dikranovich said...

Free glee, for as much typing as you did, I'm not sure you really made any valid points.

There are only three DP allowed per team, maybe a forth is on the way. But a team can't sign six million dollar men, unless there is a way to make three of them non DPs, maybe two.

Maybe we can just stick with your point one, before moving on.

dikranovich said...

"This move strengthens MLS in terms of marketing". Now as soon as I read this comment, I'm like, oh no, here we go. I mean, why on earth would a player just coming into his prime be anything other than a marketing ploy? Maybe because he our top striker and any team in MLS would be lucky to have this man on their team.

Unless Jozy becomes injury prone, this move strengthens Toronto.

Jozy might score fifteen goals, he might go for a larger haul, but either way, he will have far more sharpness than he has now. He will be much more in form, and goals will be a lot easier for him.

I really think it is time for people to get off that pretentious high horse. Just because your in the Barcelona academy, doesn't gift your place at the highest levels of this sport, and if you went there illegally, it might actually end up stunting the growth of a player.

Chris said...

Greg, are we ever going to get details of the deal? The sunderland Echo calls this a straight swap, while ESPN said a significant amount of cash went TFC's way. I can't see anything but the latter being true. TFC had Defoe under contract and Sunderland was desperate to offload Jozy and his wages and bring in a striker who could score more than their other strikers with negligible to non existent service. Based on current form, perceived value, Defoe being English, and the contract situations, TFC would be insane to be ok with a straight swap. Part of me thinks the reporting of this being a straight swap by the echo is the Blunderland faithful taking one last swipe at Jozy and American soccer.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Danny Boy:

Pardon me for not being clearer, but what I said has absolutely nothing to do with pride and everything to do with practical things like player interest and vsluations.

@ The Streetsweeper:

It seems quite obvious to me, but - setting goaltenders aside - Eredivisie defending is much tougher. Just compare how many defenders/defensive midfielders move from the Eredivisie to top leagues (ENG/GER/ITA/SPA) and the number who succeed, with the MLS numbers. It is not a perfect comparison and MLS should by no means approach those Eredivisie numbers as such a young league, but it is a pretty simple and straightforward quick way to gauge. Sure, MLS has had a good amount for a younger league, but we could list Eredivisie products making those lists for hours. The whole meme that Dutch clubs do not defend is nonsense. Anyone who says that does not understand the tactics. The Dutch defend everywhere on the field, which can at times open space at the back, and with all the outstanding attackers littered around the league, Dutch clubs score .1 to .3 goals per game more than other leagues most season.

@ Chris: I will do my best to get the details as soon as I am allowed. :D

Unknown said...

Greg and Freegle are correct. Right now US soccer seems to face a dichotomy: get top national team players to play in and improve the our national league, or go abroad and try to improve their own talent by playing in better leagues in Europe. Many US soccer fans believe this is a false dichotomy: players can advance their skills in MLS just as much (or nearly as much) as they would in Europe.

The problem I see with this argument is that evidence points towards the best players and best national teams are those who play in the best leagues and against the best competition. MLS is improving--it is roughly better than the Scandinavian, Belgian, and Greek leagues--but it is not at the level where one can clearly state that it is one of the best leagues *or* provides the best context to improve play (e.g. providing playing time, competition, familiar environs, ect.). As Freegle and Greg pointed out, it does not seem evident that Jozy and Mix would have been clearly aided by MLS. Recent decisions by Jozy and Mix and Bradley seem to be rushed decisions to find playing time at comfortable clubs, rather than finding a temporary loan to a decent European club (a frustrating point when Bradley is needed on at least ten Premier League squads, and Jozy had suitors in other decent European leagues).

On the link between MLS and the USMNT:
1. MLS does not need our best national team players to play in MLS. MLS is growing the game slowing in the US, establishing strong franchises, developing youth systems, and increasing player salaries. Gaining a few superior national teamers will only help a limited number of teams, and harm the abilities of those players through inferior competition, pricing players out of loans, and isolating them from the European footballing experience.
2. The USMNT does not need a strong MLS--it needs a growing, vibrant MLS, to provide roughly 1/3 of the USMNT. MLS is growing too slowly to provide the variety of players with appropriate skills to support Jurgen's goals of improving World Cup performances. For every Germany and Spain, leagues that have promoted their national teams, there is a Belgium, Brazil, Argentina. Ideally, a strong league promotes the national team. But we are not at that point yet.

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, let me just add something to my earlier remarks. It is all fine and dandy that folks understand the best leagues in the world keep most of the domestic talent and then as a result rise high, high, higher in the international ranks.

The disconnect is these folks seem to think you can go straight from Bambi legs MLS to top dog level in the foreseeable future. There are steps in the process, they take time and most of those steps involve being a selling league that builds its strength with rolling youth development. Stars go out for money, talent takes the open spot.

Besides, this whole thing about top international teams only coming from countries with top leagues is news to me. I never get tired of hearing how the Eredivisie is a deficient league, but Oranje finished third last year and second the time before that. South Korea made the final four in 2006, Portugal in 2010 and Uruguay did it last time. Hell, it was not so long ago Greece won a European Championship.

Freegle said...

dik as usual you're not seeing to forest through the trees. Of course I know a team can't sign 6 one million dollar players. Consider the principle. Mix isn't a DP. Would you rather build a team with six players of his caliber or one of Jozy's? Before you say anything else. answer that question.

As for the second post... huh?

There were only 4 goals scored for the USMNT in 2014 by MLS players (all in friendlies and none after April) so scoring goals in MLS does not consistently translate into international scoring (also see Wondolowski, C. and Twellman, T). I'm not saying it can't (E.J. was able to have a couple of runs but has been inconsistent overall), only that the evidence we have doesn't bear it out. Jozy can score 25 goals for TFC which would be great for his club but that doesn't necessarily help the USMNT or the credibility of MLS in the "ranking leagues in the world" pecking order in the long term, even if it gives MLS a quick media boost.

what does Barcelona's academy have to do with anything?

dikranovich said...

Freegle, it's a dumb question. Let's keep it real and not Try to insert these fantastical arguments. Jozy is going to Toronto and its a big move. It sounds like Giovinco might follow.

give me a Jozy a giovinco and a Bradley and I'll go all in against your six mixes.

Mix is in New York anyway, I mean WTF...

If you're an American, and your ass is living in the USA, and you are not rooting for MLS, and you are a soccer fan, you better be a diehard USL or NASL fan.

A strong domestic league is so clearly one of the most important, if not the most important factor to a strong national team, it's not even funny.

Greece, South Korea??? What, it was 2002 for South Korea anyway, and they were at home.

It's clear to me why people think the way they do, and if you have orange blood, you can think a certain way.... Whatever. When the Dutch win a World Cup, they can crow on about how much smarter they are than everyone else, and they have such a little country and bla bla bla.

Greg Seltzer said...

Yeah, I mean who needs facts and the realities of growing a league when you can just appeal to emotions? First, you create the revolving talent door, THEN you keep everybody home. If you keep everybody home first, the door never revolves.

dikranovich said...

What??? Let's take it slowly. Jozy has been in Europe for the last five or six years. Who says Americans aren't going to Europe anymore?

Dont worry, it's just your argument unravelling before your eyes. What argument???

dikranovich said...

Speaking of Americans moving to Europe. It looks like yedlin might be In the 18 for Spurs tomorrow, and they are playing none other than Sunderland.

Unknown said...

as usual, the argument comes down to greg with facts vs other people with feels
facts > feels
theres a reason you are all following his blog and not the other way around
greg > you
stop trying to trumpet your feels over the facts

dikranovich said...

Dany, I piss on your "facts", gregs too, but I will not flush till I drop the kids off.

If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down!

Freegle said...

and so ends the strange two week period where dikranovich made some sense and had some positive contributions to the discussion on this site.... back to your regularly scheduled nonsense

dikranovich said...

I will say the big winner in this whole Jozy saga has thus far been AZ alkmaar. They buy the player for a couple mil, sell him a couple years and fifty goals later for 10 million. That is some nice business.

The biggest loser. Villarreal.

For MLS, it's basically an even trade, and they are getting a more seasoned player.

RobUsry said...

I want some news on Juan Agudelo. I think you should give it to me, Greg.

dikranovich said...

its not any big news or any great revelation, but the US mens national team has advanced to the knockout round in four of the last six world cups.

I don't think that is anything special, certainly when you consider we are 1-4 in those games. it does however say something about where we are as a soccer nation, or maybe more to the point, where we are not.

dikranovich said...

the dutch have one major trophy in their storied history. it is the 1988 European championship, and they won it the same year a dutch club team, not named ajax, won the European club championship.

isn't it clear that when a team comes from a league and does well above historical teams in the league, that league, and that nation are strong. Germany did just win a world cup less than a year after two german teams played in the finals of euro club cup.

Greece, and south korea, and france, they are the outliers, and in two out of these three cases, they were host.

a strong domestic league is so clearly a key. it is the key to overall success of any strong soccer nation

there are many, many more examples through the history, of the link between strong leagues and national team success. be it spain in 10, or Italy in 06, or brasil in the 90s, or argentina during the 70s and 80s.

its undeniable!!!

lets go see what this right back for forest can do on the road

dikranovich said...

excuse me.... left back

Unknown said...

Better for Jozy to play and practice alongside Mikey every day than to sit on the bench in Europe.

Would I have loved it if Jozy would've gotten on an EPL team that provides service to its strikers? Sure. But at this point, that simply wasn't going to happen. He chose unwisely going to a Di Canio Sunderland and has now lost the perceived value he had from his time in Holland.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ dikranovich:

It is beyond hilarious that you try to use Spain as evidence for your point. I mean, after all, it only took them 50-60 years of having a top league to win something.

dikranovich said...

Go look and see who was dominating the Asian club cup between 1998 and 2002. It really should not surprise anyone whose countries club teams were dominating this event during this time period

dikranovich said...

Greg, I think the answer is pretty clear. Focus in Spain was really on club teams, most notably RM and barca. These teams were importing players from other nations before it really became fashionable. It hurt Spain at the national team level. Plus they siesta in Spain, meanwhile Germans and Italians were practicing their ass off

Greg Seltzer said...

Wow. And I thought the Spain thing was hilarious...

Hey, do you know what else happened around 2002? South Korea built up a pretty damn good team, regardless of the competition. People tend to look back at our 1-1 draw with them for the Mathis goal. They seem to overlook that was a pretty good hard-fought result.

dikranovich said...

Oh, and not for nothing, but spain had a major trophy on the shelf a quarter century before holland won their one and only.

Greg Seltzer said...

* It hurt Spain at the national team level. *

More hilarity. You do realize the point you are trying so hard to prove is that having a top quality league is the way to having a top quality national team, right?

Besides, even if Real had 2-3-4 foreign players while winning those first five European Cups, it is still far less than the foreign invasion of La Liga today, when they remain a top league with a national team having won a couple things in the last decade.

dikranovich said...

Smoke em if you got em!!!

dikranovich said...

At least Geoff Cameron's replacement is taller than he is. Geoff cameron is a great example of a guy that could take his game to another level coming back to MLS.

He is not taking his game to another level playing right back for stoke city, nor sitting on the bench.

Greg Seltzer said...

Way too easy, on about four levels. Anyone else wanna take this one?

dikranovich said...

My guess is SKC would be an attractive locale for spider man

Freegle said...

wait... my sources said yedlin might be in the 18 today for Spurs. what happened?

dikranovich said...

well, they have four starters in defense, three defenders out injured, and two defenders on the bench.

it looks like yedlin is the tenth defender on the team.

he does cost 4.5 mil on epl fantasy. for some perspective. vlaar cost only 4.4 mil.

maybe young DY gets his chance next cup game.

Unknown said...

@ Danny Boy, @The Streetsweeper: Do you want to rejoin the debate and defend MLS? I think there will come a time when MLS should be the natural home for USMNT players, even perhaps for a core group necessary to compete at the World Cup (i.e. home for the Zusis, Beckermans, and other players who will either start or be key role players). Until MLS becomes a clear top ten league, I see the health of the USMNT primarily relying upon players who are producing overseas.

Tell me how I am wrong. Dik has spent his last brain cell and regained his position as Greg's jester. Most of us QED to finish out an argument; Dik prefers "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down!"

dikranovich said...

John luck, there is no debate. the side Of the debate you espouse to, has no legs to stand on. It's full of pipe dreams and empty promises.

Unknown said...

let me get this straight. you think geoff cameron can improve as a player by leaving

practices where he has to push himself so he can get match time
coaching from a staff that has been together in the premiership for more than 10 years, including mark bowen (over 300 premiership appearances at fullback)
matches against coutinho, ozil, tadic, chadli, bojan, jefferson, varela, nasri, cazorla, agbonlahor, schurlle, hazard, pienaar, ince, downing, samaras, giaccherini, taarabt, gouffran, januzaj, young...

and going to... lets say his old club houston, for example

practices where he doesnt have to try because he knows he will be in the 11
coaching from a staff experienced in the scottish premiership and the english championship
matches against the likes of dempsey, keane, martins, wondolowski, zardes, wright-phillips, gabi torres, dwyer, valeri, hurtado, altidore, saborio, blas perez, akindele, magee, davies...

you think the latter scenario is the one in which geoff cameron can improve the most
and btw feel free to send him to a different mls team with a different coaching staff, but i dont think theres a single one that matches up to hughes and co.

dikranovich said...

Dany, the short answer is yes. I think Cameron's game would improve if he was playing week in week out right next to Matt Besler at SKC .

Cameron can't be a right back at a big time level, I think Alex Sanchez explained that last weekend. He is not bad though. Serviceable for a mid level EPL team.

What, is Geoff going to magically drop three inches and increase his pace?

Anonymous said...

"If you're an American, and your ass is living in the USA, and you are not rooting for MLS, and you are a soccer fan, you better be a diehard USL or NASL fan."

Why? This sounds like some wingnut nationalist with us or against us crap, lemme guess if you're a diehard soccer supporter and your American "ass" is living in the USA you should also care about the USMNT? You got some weird stuff going on. Man, I'm tired of it.
I know you're main point is to get a rise out of someone. So, congratulations, after however many years reading your comments it finally worked on me. Go take a victory lap.

dikranovich said...

K-ham thank you and welcome. I just want to make sure you understand the basic premise of what I'm saying.

Unknown said...

@Dik the Jester: So you admit after playing and practicing with inferior players, competing against inferior opponents, and instructed by inferior coaches, Cameron's game would be magically improved if he went to MLS.

Damn, you bit the bullet, owned up to driving the crazy train. I'm proud of you. A host of men are coming to celebrate your descent into lunacy. They'll have a new jacket for you--it might be a bit tight and restrictive. The padded cell they have for you is pretty comfy.

@ k-hamrin: I agree that might be a bit of nationalism in this pro-MLS banter. On the idea that individuals living in the US ought to support/care for the USMNT: I used to be puzzled when I saw Mexican-Americans cheering for Mexico. I drove hours to matches in Columbus and was saddened to see Mexican-Americans cheering against the USMNT. I realized that the issue isn't so much a problem on those fans' parts as it is a problem for USMNT supporters and US citizens in general. Many Mexican-Americans cheer for the Mexican National team because they don't feel welcome in the US, or their culture has not been welcomed into the US. I feel that as the US becomes more accepting of Mexican-American culture, along with resolving social-political issues (e.g. immigration), we might see an increase in Mexican-Americans cheering for the USMNT. (Sorry for the tangent, but this is related to a large group of individuals in the US not cheering for the USMNT).

dikranovich said...

John luck. I think you know very well that a little nationalistic fervor is one of the key ingredients in building a top soccer nation.

I mean, American players have only been coming back from Europe to play in MLS since the first days of MLS. And over that time players have returned and improved their games, on inferior teams, with inferior talent around them, and with vastly inferior coaches around them.

I mean, how could any American coach ever be as good as mark Hughes? The guy played for Alec ferguson, and he is Welch. We can never have a coach on the level of Roy keane..... Oh brother!!!

John luck, thank you for those many hours driving to Columbus. That means something!!!

dikranovich said...

4 out out of the last 6 world cups. Let that sink in. That's how many times our country has been to the knock-out rounds. That's over a 20 plus years period.

Some people were just little ninos in 1999, but some of you, that's where your soccer mindset is stuck, right in 1999. At least It was a good year for a party,

JJO said...

what was similar about 1998 and 2006 World Cups when USA crashed out at the group stage? What does Russia 2018 have in common with those tournaments? Does having the core of a team based on the continent that hosts the tournament have an effect on performance?

dikranovich said...

JJO, that's a very fair point, and it is worth more discussion. Could you give me a good guess at five players who you think will be core players in 2018? And that's of course assuming we can navigate WCQ

dikranovich said...

I think if you were going to name five core players, that will be key contributors in 2018, a great place to start would be between the sticks.

1. Guzan has two more clean sheets than the Frenchmen at Tottenham. Brad is in contention to be on a champions league team over the next three years.

Im not sure if core players need to be in the spine, but center half is always a key position.

2. John a Brooks. This is a big young player and if he improves over the next three years, he will still be a young center half, and he will still be in Europe, and he might even be playing in the champions league.

Just because a guy is not playing today, doesn't mean he will not be a superstar tomorrow.

3. DY has the tools to contribute in any league. This guy could be a beast for the next two world cups. Champions league is within his grasp over the next three years.

4. fabian Johnson, everyone knows he brings so much quality to the table, some are stubborn about where he should play, but logic dictates that older, wiser, defender

There are going to be more than five core American players in Europe come 2018, it will not be 23 American guys playing club ball in Europe, but it will be a balanced number.

5. ale bedoya does the dirty work and he needs to get better. If he makes a move up the ladder and continues to start, that will be a good sign for his future.

dikranovich said...

jJO, maybe the real truth is that USA will go into 2018 having more players with champions league experience than any previous World Cup. so all you knuckleheads can pat yourselves on the back about how right you were.

Personally, I think Sam Cronin has about as much soccer IQ as any American player, and has deft skills for only going to college, and having to endure time in Toronto, although, he might not mind being there now.

College, barca academy, it doesn't really matter, what matter is that a person can work, and learn, and grow.

All this compartmentalizing BS about what is right and what is wrong. It stymies us as a soccer nation.

dikranovich said...

JJO, I think another significant point is that the days of every other World Cup being held in Europe, they are over. Russia gets it in 2018, but after that it is entirely possible that the next World Cup on European soil, might not be until 2038.