There is nothing more frustrating than seeing European’s continue to turn up their nose at MLS. Despite all the hard evidence and statements from numerous players, so many purists over the Atlantic still see MLS as a joke. As nothing more than a recreational league. Tim Howard, Steven Gerard, Andrea Pirlo and more have all vouched that MLS is not to be trifled with. It is a force in and of itself.
Gerard even acknowledged that he had that high horse mindset when he first came to MLS, but has since discovered that it is a competitive league that has tested him and pushed him.
Pirlo recently said that MLS is hard work. There isn’t always room for fun and games because of the physicality and intensity of the play.
Tim Howard was perhaps the most outspoken, voicing his opinion that MLS is not a retirement league.
And yet, Antonio Conte has snubbed Sebastian Giovinco and Andrea Pirlo for one simple reason – where they play. Not only that, he was a royal snob about it, stating it like it was an established fact. Here’s what the omniscient Conte had to say about the United States of America.
“I spoke to Andrea, I needed to hear from him and we sent people to the US. However, we’ve made other choices and you have to accept them and deal with the consequences. Nothing was left to chance. We evaluated him and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms.”
But wait, the good part is yet to come.
“We evaluated them technically, we didn’t leave anything to chance. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, we went everywhere to have clear and precise ideas. I picked the 30 who I think will give me the most guarantees.”
In case you missed the egregiously ignorant part, let me restate it for you: “Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong.”
So what Conte is saying is that everyone who thinks MLS is a legitimate league is wrong. Gerard, Howard, Pirlo, you’re all wrong. There is nothing in America but fried chicken, Ford and football (and not the European kind).
If Conte wanted to turn an entire nation against the Italian national team, this is the best way to do it. Here is arguably the greatest player to ever play for Italy, Andrea Pirlo, and a sparkplug that is igniting the entire league, Sebastian Giovinco, and Conte completely scoffed at their potential inclusion because they play in a league that he doesn’t understand.
It makes literally no sense. If Conte knew anything about MLS, he would know what a tough, physical league it is. If he spoke to Pirlo and read what Pirlo had to say, he would understand that Pirlo has been flustered by how tough life at NYCFC can be. And by that standard, unleashing Pirlo or Giovinco in a European competition, where it might not be so physical and bare-knuckle, would awaken their best play. Freeing Pirlo, even for just a few months, from the constraints of the physical MLS would allow him to play the game that he loves. The beautiful play where he has freedom and openness to pick out the perfect pass.
But Conte wouldn’t know that. All Conte knows is that somehow, an afterthought like Ciro Immobile, who has scored five goals in 11 starts for Torino, beats out a league MVP like Giovinco.
Keep limiting yourself and your team, Conte. It’s always a good tactic.