Toronto FC Introduce Jermain Defoe

Michael Bradley without the armband in Toronto? Interesting, but not that important


We’ve had the same discussion regarding the national team, but with Michael Bradley seemingly the cornerstone of Toronto FC going forward, handing the captain’s armband to the team’s high-priced midfielder would seem like a logical move. Not only does the U.S. international have the demeanor and temperament to handle the role, but the move would be a small, mostly ceremonial way to further signal a new era of Reds soccer. The team’s made a huge commitment, is trying to instill new, higher expectations, and no player a better symbol for that change than Bradley.

The move would mostly be symbolic, however. On the field, the team will be the same whether Bradley takes the armband or it stays with defender Steven Caldwell, who assumed the honor last season.

According to head coach Ryan Nelsen, when the team opens the 2014 campaign on Mar. 15 in Seattle, the 12-time Scotland international will lead his teammates out.

“Steven’s been our captain and always has been, and there’s no reason why he won’t be,” Nelsen said on the league’s official website. “Real leaders on the field don’t need an armband; it’s more for the public, media and fans.”

Toronto general manager Tim Bezbatchenko also sounded a note of support, citing the leadership the former Premier League defender showed after joining the Reds in the middle of the 2013 season. In that sense, the staff at BMO is staying with the sure thing. They know what the 33-year-old brings to the table. Possibly out of loyalty, Nelsen and friends may not want to rock the boat.

For some players, this kind of stuff matters. It did when David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles. Michael Bradley doesn’t seem like the type of player to either insist on or care about the armband, but it’s too easy to say real leaders don’t need the honor. Each squad and each situation is different.

In Toronto, it’s probably not going to matter. It is interesting, however, that a player so many see as captain material isn’t wearing the armband for club or country.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?