A couple of months ago, when Jermain Defoe signed for MLS team Toronto FC, there was surprise among fans of other Premier League teams that their club had not made an attempt to sign the England international. There was surprise that such a predatory goalscorer was allowed to leave with seemingly no real interest from other Premier League teams that were crying out for a striker who can provide goals.
Perhaps there was interest, but Defoe really wanted to experience MLS and undertake a new challenge. Either way, Toronto FC are about to reap the benefits massively. The MLS as a league has grown indisputably in recent years, both in recognition and in quality. The level of the players in the league has increased, and in turn, that has brought more notoriety and a better overall level of play. With that said, it is still obviously a level or two below the standard that Defoe is used to playing at.
Over the years, in the Premier League and in both the Champions League and Europa League, Defoe has been accustomed to trying to find space against world class defenders like Nemanja Vidic, Vincent Kompany and John Terry, among others. There is obviously not the same caliber of defenders in MLS, though, and Defoe brings with him fantastic movement, pace and absolutely clinical finishing ability — if he gets the service, who is going to be able to stop him?
The movement of a striker is what creates the space to score goals. Defoe’s movement is exceptional and probably not something most MLS defenders are going to be able to deal with. It will primarily depend on whether Toronto are able to present Defoe with the goal scoring opportunities that he feasts upon, because if they do, he will score goals. He has spent his whole career doing exactly that. If playing regular in the Premier League this season, you would fancy Defoe to notch around 15 goals. So how many will he score in MLS?
Time will tell. The great thing is that we get to watch it all unfold throughout the season. Throughout his career, Defoe has only been able to guarantee you one thing — goals. And he will give Toronto exactly that. The real question is, just how many?