It was a bloody big deal. Toronto FC announced Monday the signing of two new Designated Players, English international Jermain Defoe and US international Michael Bradley.
Let that sink in for a moment. Defoe and Bradley in Toronto. Yeah, its big.
The money spent to get those two was a lot, some are saying it is upwards of $100 million. The days of MLS teams spending just enough to get by are over and done with now. It was LA who got things started in 2007 with David Beckham, Seattle added to the fun when they joined the league but now it is Toronto, a team that is going to take the DP arms race to the next level.
That is until 2015 when New York City FC joins the league, or even further down the road when Atlanta and Miami join the race. That is why Toronto is getting ahead of the curve now. That is why Toronto jumped in after Seattle did the same last year with Clint Dempsey. Because landing three quality DPs is a bloody big deal.
Sure, it will cost Toronto a lot in the long run but I’m not worried for their bottom line in terms of how they’ll pay for these guys. Its not my place to worry about that. They’ve sold out enough games over the years at BMO Field to be able to figure something out.
If anything these moves put owners like Robert Kraft (New England), Stan Kroenke (Colorado) and Jorge Vergara (Chivas) on alert. If you want to do well in this league, you have to be willing to break open the piggy bank, at least some. Colorado is getting better at it though their willingness to part with Oscar Pareja last week would suggest otherwise. New England seems to be content on raising young players and turning them for profit still.
Toronto has opened up the race between clubs too, something MLS wanted to protect at one point. Goal.com reported that three other teams put in big bids to get Bradley but were outdone by Toronto. Columbus, Philadelphia and Kansas City all tried but lost out.
Not all teams will want to spend like this but it shows that teams are wanting to put their best foot forward in building the best team that they can. The stakes are the MLS table are raising, at some point that means so will the level of play and everything else in between.