Monday obviously belonged to TFC. The Reds announced their two big Designated Player signings at an energetic press conference in Toronto. The money is huge, per the Toronto Star, “TFC more than quadrupled Defoe’s salary, to $8 million a year. Bradley gets an even bigger bump, a six-year, $36 million contract that represents a 600 per cent increase on what he was reported to be earning in Italy.” Other than revealing that soccer salaries are remarkably low when compared to those of American sports, these numbers suggest that the league and its owners are willing to spend money to bring MLS to the next level. It also suggests that MLS still needs to significantly overpay to bring big names to the United States and Canada.
There was some suggestion that these signings were somehow related to efforts to increase television ratings in advance of the upcoming television negotiations. I don’t think that analysis is fair to either the team or the players. Moreover, given the nature of television ratings, a Canadian team is actually a detriment to good ratings in the US for national broadcasts. Nevertheless, the new signings should definitely bring some new eyeballs to the screen and will definitely bring additional fans to the game.
The signing drew front page headlines in Canada, with the local sporting press rightly recognizing the importance of the signings. Coverage on SiriusXMFC was also outstanding, with the hosts taking an array of the informed, passionate and moronic calls that make up traditional sports radio in this country. Of course, these are all great signs for the league.