It is fair to say that current Italy national team boss Antonio Conte is not a big fan of Major League Soccer. Conte decided not to include Sebastian Giovinco or Andrea Pirlo in Italy’s provisional 30-man Euro 2016 squad because of where they play.
The former Juventus coach admitting that their decision to play in the MLS influenced his final selection.
“I spoke to Andrea, I needed to hear from him and we sent people to the US,” Conte said at a press conference. “However, we’ve made other choices and you have to accept them and deal with the consequences. Nothing was left to chance.
“We evaluated him and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms. We evaluated them technically, we didn’t leave anything to chance. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, we went everywhere to have clear and precise ideas. I picked the 30 who I think will give me the most guarantees.”
Strong words from the new Chelsea boss and comments that MLS could not let the slight go, hitting back at Conte for using “ignorant, gratuitous use of a tired cliché”. In epic rant on the MLS website, Editor-in-Chief Simon Borg said:
“How does it account for the fact that the “MLS effect” hadn’t quite taken hold of Giovinco last October, when he was good enough to clinch qualification for Italy to the Euros by coming off the bench to be the catalyst in the Azzurri’s come-from-behind win vs. Norway?
“Imagine what a surprise it’ll be when Conte finds out that the other European players in MLS with a legitimate shot of making the Euros actually made their team: Montreal’s Laurent Ciman (Belgium), Colorado’s Shkelzen Gashi (Albania) and Ireland’s Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) and Kevin Doyle(Colorado Rapids), who happen to face Conte’s Italy in the third and final Group E match on June 22 in Lille (And wouldn’t that be an interesting twist of fate if Keane or Doyle had something to do with a potential Italian ouster?).
“Couldn’t he just have left it that he picked Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne over Giovinco? Or that it was a technical decision to leave Pirlo out?
“Yet he had to go for the cliché dig at MLS. Coming from a manager labeled as “provincial” in his own country because he’s failed to win in Europe, that was as provincial a statement as they come.”
Me doth believe the MLS protest too much!
I don’t think that anyone seriously thinks that the standard of soccer in MLS is as good as Serie A. So it makes sense that Conte wants players who are playing against a higher level of competition every week.
I think you can also make a similar argument that one of the problems with the US Men’s team over the last 18 months is that the Dempsey, Bradley and Altidore have all moved from Europe to MLS.