Saturday, January 24, 2015

TFC signs Sebastian Giovinco to largest MLS salary (and still I worry for TFC 2015)

Sebastian "Atomic Ant" Giovinco

I have been struggling for days with the recent onslaught of TFC news. Good news and great news has been tumbling in, but how do I turn this info into a blog post. Just what is the official "Mistake by the Lake" take on the state of TFC?

It was an incredible moment last weekend when a friend and fellow fan contacted me and told me that the Sebastian Giovinco signing was breaking news. I do not follow Serie A, but I know what level of quality player Juventus represents. The signing of a 27 year old player from a UEFA Champions League level Italian superclub is a MLS and Toronto breakthrough. Yet I have not spent the hours since then thinking that TFC have finally stumbled on the winning formula. I have my concerns.

Arrival concern

Since his contract with Juventus ends with June, Giovinco is scheduled to begin with Toronto on July 1st. The problem with that is the Gold Cup. It is scheduled for July this summer, so Giovinco will arrive just in time to see the best Americans and Canadians on TFC leave to play for their national teams. If he is unable to train or play with the team in June, I just have the feeling that August will be when the team truly gathers. That is a long time to wait for a finished product, although finishing the year better than you started is not TFC tradition.
Internet rumours are pointing towards TFC paying a transfer fee to move Giovinco into Toronto colours earlier. That is a move I would applaud.

Size concern

The MLS is a physical league. Combine athletic defending muscle with shaky officiating and you have a tough place for a smaller attacking player to thrive. Giovinco is not Joao Plata sized, but I worry...

Adjustment concern

I feel that in order to know what will make things right in Toronto for Giovinco, we need to know what went wrong with Jermain Defoe
Giovinco has never been to Toronto before, which I think was also true of Defoe at the time of his signing. 

Coaching concern

I will save this one for a future post.

A historical footnote

Roberto Bettega - top left

I just had to cover my little sense of deja vu and in doing so reveal just how old this blogger is.
Toronto has been down this path before as have local soccer fans of my generation and older. In 1983 the Toronto Blizzard signed Roberto Bettega from Juventus to play in Toronto. Bettega played two years in Toronto and even played in The Soccer Bowl at Varsity Stadium. He scored in a losing cause in the Blizzard's final game in the NASL.

I have never been a fan of the team building through national heritage approach. I have argued long and hard that locally developed talent is the future of the game in Canada and I continue to scratch my head as to why we have not produced. It is a sad state really. 30 years ago, watching Bettega in a Blizzard uniform, would I have predicted that come 2015 we would still be importing Euro talent because we have none of our own to compare?

Talk soon...

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