Despite the constant criticisms of U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann that his players need to do the complete opposite, Italian national team head coach Antonio Conte said this weekend that he supports Sebastian Giovinco’s decision to sign for Major League Soccer side Toronto FC.
[ MORE: Giovinco could join TFC in January ]
Speaking to Italian daily Tuttosport, Conte revealed he would have done the same thing Giovinco chose to do, not only for the financial factors in play — Giovinco’s TFC contract will reportedly pay the 27-year-old north of $7 million per year — but also for the fact he sees the North American game as a steadily improving place for players to ply their trade.
“What else should he have done? In a few years players will elbow each other to go there. [MLS] will grow so much, and not just in terms of chatter.
“According to the latest surveys young Americans between six and 12 years old don’t choose the traditional sports like basketball and football, but they pick soccer. If they [North America] go down that road, pretty soon there’s going to be problems for everyone.”
Conte doesn’t seem all that bothered by the idea of Giovinco — or, perhaps one of his more regular national team players — signing with an MLS team. MLS is obviously on the steady incline, while Serie A clubs have seen their reputation plummet in recent years.
Any player playing for any Serie A side outside of Juventus and Roma — and barely Roma, at that — isn’t competing for a league title and is even less likely to experience a deep run in continental club competitions. Meanwhile, the potential for incoming players to make a massive impression in MLS, on a stage which grows larger year after year, is as great as ever.
Giovinco isn’t likely to get himself back into the national team picture upon moving to MLS — nor was he likely to do so had he stayed in Europe — so scorching hot takes, like “Giovinco sold his soul for money,” to move to MLS become increasingly mind-numbing with Conte’s backing, even as Giovinco gets set to reportedly become the highest paid player in MLS history.