TORONTO (AP) — Michael Bradley didn't need too much time to mull things over after getting a sales pitch for his services from Toronto FC.
The American midfielder, unsure of playing time at Italy's AS Roma, had multiple offers for a January move but called the chance to return to Major League Soccer "an opportunity that I couldn't pass up."
"What they're trying to build here is something really special, something unique," Bradley said Monday after he was unveiled as Toronto's newest marquee signing. "As a player, you want to be a part of something like that, you want to be at a place where the people share your ambition, share your goals, share your drive. It took all of two seconds for me to understand that I was going to be coming to a place here where I was going to be surrounded by people with that motivation and commitment."
Striker Jermain Defoe, officially signed from Engand's Tottenham last Friday, was introduced alongside Bradley as Toronto took the wraps off its two new designated players with a glitzy news conference at a downtown sports bar.
The moves represent the latest soccer coup by Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment and the man who helped bring David Beckham to America in his previous role as chief executive of the LA Galaxy.
A beaming Leiweke called Bradley's and Defoe's deals the equal of Beckham's 2007 arrival in MLS.
"I think this is as big a day," Leiweke said. "These guys aren't bigger than David Beckham, no one is bigger than David Beckham. He will be the biggest, most important signing ever as a DP. They invented the rule for him. But, when you combine the fact that these two guys are coming ... it makes a very, very dramatic statement about how people perceive this league in the world today."
Leiweke said he asked Beckham to call the 31-year-old Defoe and help sell him on a move to MLS. Once Defoe was signed, Leiweke said the English striker's deal was part of Bradley's "recruitment" to Toronto.
"Quite frankly, I'm not sure we would have gotten Michael without Jermain," Leiweke said.