There have been a few United States players who have signed with MLS because they didn't have many, if any, European options left. Jozy Altidore is not one of them.
The American striker, who joined Toronto FC in January, had interest throughout Europe, and it went as far as him turning down outright offers so he could return to MLS.
Altidore tells me he turned down four German clubs, two French, two Italian teams and a potential loan option in Premier League to join TFC.— Kurtis Larson (@KurtLarSUN) February 22, 2015
Altidore signed with Sunderland in the summer of 2013 after a great spell with AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie. But he was terrible for the Black Cats and desperately needed to get out. Eventually, he joined Toronto FC, but it wasn't before several other clubs came calling.
It's not clear which clubs were interested in him. It's pretty safe to say that they weren't title-contending teams, but there were probably some pretty good ones in there. Lille were interested, and they are a solid midtable Ligue 1 team that won the league just a few years ago. Odds are a few of the other clubs who made offers to the striker were also midtable and respectable.
It's entirely believable that Altidore had interest and offers from several clubs in multiple big leagues. He has a track record of scoring internationally and it wasn't too long ago that he was racking up goals in the Eredivisie. He has all of the measurables and strikers aren't exactly easy to come by. Even if he struggled with Sunderland, it was hardly an ideal situation and could be explained away pretty easily. That doesn't mean clubs were offering a ton of money, were going to make him anything more than an option off of the bench or were entirely confident he would come good, but clubs wanting to take a chance on Altidore and push for him does make sense.
Altidore has already said that one of the reasons he joined Toronto was Michael Bradley. Now he's playing with his U.S. teammate, and Bradley even went as far as to restructure his contract so the club could sign Altidore. The 25-year-old also told Larson that TFC's stadium renovation played a part in his thinking, as the venue's expansion to 30,000 seats with a roof and other top amenities show their commitment to building a real power. Of course, that Toronto offered him a fat contract assuredly played a big role as well.
Altidore was always going to leave Sunderland in January. They didn't want him, and he didn't want to be there, but there were plenty of clubs that did. He picked Toronto -- he didn't have to settle for them. Hopefully, that move plays out well for him, and if it does, it will play out well for both the U.S. and MLS.