Nothing like a bit of Major League Soccer aggro to get the day going! With the opening of the 2014 MLS season less than a month away, Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC are already exchanging handbags.
It appears that Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz is not amused with TFC’s spending spree that has seen them sign the likes of Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley and Julio Cesar.
n an interview with The Philly Soccer Page this week, Sakiewiz took a swipe at TFC for spending in excess of $90 million this off-season.
I get frustrated when I see people say how smart Toronto is spending $90 million,” Sakiewicz told Philly Soccer Page.
“I get frustrated when I see (MLSE CEO) Tim Leiweke breaking the bank up there. If we had spent that, we’d be mortgaging the team for 20 years.”
Sakiewicz continued, asking:
What’s better? Michael Bradley for more than $6 million a year, or Maurice Edu at a $1.5-million figure?
President and CEO of MLSE Tim Leiweke did not take the criticism well telling the Toronto Sun,
“I’m sure there are others who are mumbling underneath their breath, but this one was a little bit more than that,” Leiweke said.
“Questioning Bradley is great. Good. Do more of it. One thing I know about Michael is the more people question him … all they do is get him more committed, more passionate, more aggressive.”
“Everyone has an opinion. They’re entitled. But 10 times out of 10, I know who I’d take. That doesn’t mean the other kid (Edu) isn’t a good player. He is. But this is Michael Bradley. I hope they keep on him and keep on saying what they’re saying. It will only motivate a core piece of our team and the rest of the team around him.”
The who is better argument between Edu and Bradley is a silly one for Philadelphia to make as even the Sons of Ben will admit that Bradley is a much better player.
But where Sakiewicz is correct is that the spending spree by TFC is something that they will not be able to recoup in additional revenue, something that Leiweke admitted.
“Everyone has their own marketplace,” Leiweke told the Sun. “On ours, we’ve sold 17,000 tickets in three weeks. We’re going to have a packed stadium every game this year. Our ratings are going to be great. Our merch sells are going to be great.
“In our world, with our fans, with the commitment they’ve made the last seven years, we owed them this. This is about our business and our relationship with our marketplace. We knew people were going to shoot at us. The shooting has begun.”
The Eastern Conference is going to be split in the coming years between the wealthy (TFC, NYRB, NYFC, Miami) and the fiscally conservative (New England, Chicago, Columbus, DC United). That has to be a worry for MLS as we have seen in Spain who a financial imbalance between clubs can reduce the of the league.