When did American soccer Twitter break?
Or was it when Alexi Lalas confirmed it?
Whichever it was, American soccer went into a tizzy when the possibility of America's best player (and seriously, don't argue this point because it's not that close) returning to MLS, not for the final few years of his career, but at the age of 26 and five months ahead of the World Cup to boot.
Making matters stranger is that he is being linked to Toronto FC. If he was to return to MLS, most would peg the New York Red Bulls as his destination, the club that signed him at 16 years old. If not there, the Chicago Fire, where he roamed the training fields as a child while his father managed. But Toronto? They're not even in his home country.
Tim Leiweke makes Toronto viable, though. Such is the nature of the man who lured David Beckham and Robbie Keane to Los Angeles before leaving to take over MLSE, which owns TFC. If there is one man capable of making seemingly impossible moves happen, it is him.
Of course, there is no confirmation that Bradley is going to TFC or, if he does, for how long. It could be a six-month loan to keep him fit ahead of the World Cup before he seeks a move elsewhere in the summer or it could be a deal with a reasonable release clause, allowing Bradley to stay as long as he wants, but move back to Europe at a price many teams can afford should he choose to.
Jurgen Klinsmann has shown a lot of faith in MLS players, changing the narrative that MLS's best have to play in Europe. Not only are players like Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler rebuffing advances from European clubs, but Clint Dempsey left Europe to play in MLS. Now Bradley could do the same, and it wouldn't hurt his standing with the U.S. one bit.
Nobody would argue that it's better for a player, soccer-wise, to play in Serie A than MLS, especially at AS Roma, but Bradley hasn't been playing there and playing time only figure to get scarcer with the purchase of Radja Nainggolan. Serie A may be better than MLS, but playing in MLS beats riding the bench in Serie A. That's not to say that Bradley's only options are Serie A and MLS because clubs in other leagues would surely show interest in the midfielder, but a move away from Roma has to happen and MLS has proven itself to be a viable option for American national internationals.
At this point, Toronto FC is a better setup for Bradley than Roma. It's better for the national team too and whether the move happens or not, that MLS is a legitimate option for even the best of American players in their prime is pretty fantastic.
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- Transfer Rumors: Bradley to Fulham, Johannsson to Celtic
- Jurgen Klinsmann gets four-year contract extension to lead the USA through 2018
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