Tim Leiweke didn’t waste any time responding to Philadelphia Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz’s pointed comments about Toronto FC’s bank-breaking offseason.
In a conversation with Philly Soccer Page, Sakiewicz expressed concern about the financial precedent being set in Ontario after Toronto dropped close to nine figures on transfer fees and lucrative contracts for striker Jermain Defoe and USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley.
Philadelphia was reportedly in the running for Bradley before turning their attention to Maurice Edu, who the Union captured on loan for considerably less but will also be a Designated Player. For Sakiewicz, there’s no doubt which was the more prudent addition, unsurprisingly backing Edu.
“I get frustrated when I see people say how smart Toronto is spending $90 million,” he said. “I get frustrated when I see [MLSE CEO] Tim Leiweke breaking the bank up there. If we had spent that, we’d be mortgaging the team for 20 years.”
Fair enough, Leiweke (above left) told the Toronto Sun, cautioning against comparing apples to oranges between Toronto and Philadelphia.
“Everyone has their own marketplace,” Leiweke told the Sun. “On ours, we’ve sold 17,000 tickets in three weeks. We’re going to have a packed stadium every game this year. Our ratings are going to be great. Our merch sells are going to be great.
“In our world, with our fans, with the commitment they’ve made the last seven years, we owed them this. This is about our business and our relationship with our marketplace. We knew people were going to shoot at us. The shooting has begun.”
He returned fire when it came to the Bradley-Edu debate, however. No disrespect, Leiweke said, but the two aren’t comparable in his eyes.
“Everyone has an opinion,” he said. “They’re entitled. But 10 times out of 10, I know who I’d take. That doesn’t mean the other kid [Edu] isn’t a good player. He is. But this is Michael Bradley. I hope they keep on him and keep on saying what they’re saying. It will only motivate a core piece of our team and the rest of the team around him.”