With Bradley Joining TFC, Yanks Not So Abroad Anymore

After joining Toronto FC from Roma, is Michael Bradley a part of something greater?
by Austin Farrow   |   Friday, January 10, 2014

Americans Overseas – column on USA soccer players playing abroad for clubs outside of North America

Early August 2013 hype and buzz was abundant as US Men’s National Team captain Clint Dempsey was said to be making a shock move from English Premier League side, Tottenham Hotspur to MLS side, Seattle Sounders.

At 30 years old, Dempsey was expected to stay in the Premier League or even go elsewhere in Europe. Seattle moved for the attacking midfielder with $9 million and then wooed the Texan with a $24 million salary over three and a half years. Dempsey accepted and continued to make a huge move to Seattle.

While Dempsey’s move was important for Major League Soccer’s continued pursuit of becoming a world power, it is more important in that aspect because large market MLS clubs are now willing to do whatever it takes to bring in the players they want.

Fast forward 5 months and another MLS franchise is not only making a similar move but is raising the bar even further. Toronto FC made waves yesterday by not only drawing closer to their announcement of long targeted Jermain Defoe but by successfully bidding on American player Michael Bradley.

Bradley, now 26, joined Serie A outfit, Roma in the summer of 2012 and has since been hailed by many as one of the best the United States has to offer. His time at Roma should be considered a success as a whole.

In his one and a half year with the club, he made a total of 41 appearances, scored 2 goals and came away with 2 assists. He also successfully displaced Italian superstar Daniele De Rossi from the starting XI a few times last year through good performances.

This year, he found it difficult to break the midfield 3 of De Rossi, Miralem Pjanic and Kevin Strootman, but he has still played plenty whether off the bench or covering for those players when they are injured or suspended. Bradley often put together sturdy performances for Roma.

In the games Bradley started for Roma this season, Roma went 1-0-2. Their first loss of the year came to first place Juventus last Sunday, in which Bradley played no part of. Considering Bradley’s good record for Roma, living in a beautiful city, and competing against some of the best players in the world, you would think Bradley would want to stay there. Sometimes money and comfort talks, and talks loudly.

Major League Soccer is finally talking loudly.

Take a look at the Russian Premier League, Liga Bancomer MX or Campeonato Brasileiro. They are able to keep quality talent such as a Igor Denisov or Alexandre Pato despite not having the stature of a league such as the English Premier League. Money and living within your own culture is a huge part of how this is accomplished.

Now that Major League Soccer teams are willing to go to these lengths, it’ll likely bring a new era within MLS. A league like the English Premier League provides the blueprints here. You not only need international talent in a league to be one of the best but you also need to keep domestic talent. The Dempsey and Bradley transfers to MLS are big stepping stones that draw comparisons to Beckham’s impact on the league with designated players in general.

It’s 2014 now and every MLS club has had a designated player at some point in time. To speculate, maybe we see other MLS clubs splurge on Jermaine Jones or Maurice Edu next up. Then, eventually, if MLS really wants to be one of the best by the early 2020s, I will no longer be writing about Americans who play overseas. 


Indian River State
Club Domestic:
All MLS clubs
Club Foreign:
Manchester City
Bringing you news on soccer players across MLS and American players playing in top leagues around the world, Austin is a journalism major who enjoys the fine arts. He doesn't favor one club over another, but just enjoys all MLS play.