As far as preseason tours go, this one has a little bit of juice to it.
Jermain Defoe and Sunderland are headed to BMO Field in late July to face Toronto FC, which of course is Defoe’s ex-club and the current club of former Black Cats striker and longtime USMNT attacker Jozy Altidore.
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The players were swapped for each other this winter, with cash also headed to Canada.
Toronto bookended a 1-0 loss to Manchester City with home wins last week over Portland and San Jose, and will again have to manage a trio of matches in a week when Sunderland comes to town in between a visit from Philadelphia and a Trillium Cup date in Columbus.
“As we have seen with previous friendly matches, playing against a club from one of the top leagues in the world provides our players the chance to compete against quality European talent,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “In particular it provides our young players the chance to compare themselves to players with international experience aiding in their development.”
“Toronto are a well-established MLS side and will provide us with quality opposition in the final fixture of our three-game tour,” said Sunderland AFC’s Sporting Director Lee Congerton. “It presents Jermain Defoe with the opportunity to play against his former club, which will be great for him and of course we will also face Jozy Altidore, who is doing well since his move to Canada.”
In terms of these preseason friendlies, which have lost a bit of luster the more regular they become in a given market, this one will carry some intrigue. As long as both players are healthy, each will have reason enough to play, at least in terms of pride.