Toronto FC are on another spending spree. After three high-profile signings failed to bring the team its first-ever playoff appearance in 2014, the perennial basement-dwellers of Major League Soccer (MLS) are throwing even bigger wads of cash at their problems ahead of the 2015 season.
In the first few weeks of January, the Reds have traded star forward Jermaine Defoe to Sunderland and signed Italian playmaker Sebastian Giovinco. Defoe had only spent a single season in MLS, but despite his seemingly abrupt departure, the move will come as no surprise to TFC supporters. The former Tottenham striker had reportedly been ill at ease since missing out on England’s World Cup squad last summer. What will interest TFC fans more than Defoe’s fickle commitment to MLS is the player that Toronto got in return for Defoe: U.S. men’s national team striker Jozy Altidore.
Altidore isn’t exactly a superstar, but he’s relatively young and has MLS experience. The 25-year-old began his career with the New York Red Bulls, scoring 15 goals in 37 games. Those early performances earned him a transfer to Villareal in Spain in 2008, and since then he has played for various European teams with mixed results. He had a turbulent time most recently in England with Sunderland, only managing three goals in 43 appearances.
With Toronto FC, Altidore will likely be looking to bring an element of consistency back into his career. He will also be the latest in a wave of national team players to return to North America, following the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and Toronto FC teammate Michael Bradley. Altidore, a New Jersey native, has reportedly signed a five-year contract worth $30 million, making him one of the highest paid players in the league.
Another one of those wealthy players will be Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto’s second big off-season signing. Despite interest from notable European clubs, the Italian international has chosen to move to Canada in July upon the expiry of his contract with Juventus FC.
The 27-year-old is a talented forward, nicknamed the “Atomic Ant” for his small stature; and, he can occupy multiple roles as a forward or a mid-fielder. Unfortunately for Giovinco, he has been stuck on the Juventus bench for most of the 2014-15 Serie A season.
Along with the guarantee of playing time in Toronto, Giovinco was supposedly wooed by the prospect of “a truckload of money.” Those familiar with the transfer say his base salary will be close to $7 million a year after taxes, meaning he could be making more money than most players in Serie A.
Only time will tell whether or not Toronto FC’s hefty investments will pay dividends, but their willingness to spend is indisputable. After being stuck in the bottom half of the MLS standings since 2007, TFC fans are no doubt hoping that 2015 will finally be the year to break the trend.
Toronto FC will begin the 2015 season at BC Place against the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 7. Here is a look at one of the newest members of TFC , Jozy Altidore during his time in the English Premier League