By Tom Oldfield
The MLS stops for nothing – not even the World Cup. And that made for a fun Saturday, with two World Cup quarter-finals, followed by a Toronto FC nightcap and the chance to see the latest instalment of the Jermain Defoe show.
Defoe’s omission from England’s World Cup squad did not sit well with the striker – he made no secret of that. Watching club colleagues Julio Cesar and Michael Bradley leave for Brazil cannot have been easy, but England’s loss has been Toronto FC’s gain.
Ryan Nelsen’s men welcomed Bradley back into the starting line-up on Saturday against DC United but it was Defoe who featured most prominently in the first half, with three half chances. One flew wide, the other two were well saved.
Defoe already has more help than he did when the season began. His partnership with Luke Moore – he of Aston Villa, West Brom and Swansea fame – is improving with every passing week. It was Moore who levelled for Toronto FC against DC United after Defoe wreaked havoc down the left flank. DC United would go on to claim a 2-1 win and move to the top of the Eastern Conference.
In ten days’ time, Toronto FC welcome Tottenham to BMO Field for a friendly as part of the Londoners’ pre-season tour. That will bring Defoe face to face with former team-mates and good friends.
At this point, the Defoe experiment gets the thumbs up and the striker can have few regrets about choosing the MLS. His scoring burst at the start of the campaign ensured that the hype was justified and he has impressed since recovering from a hamstring injury, with eight goals to his name thus far.
Toronto FC sit fourth in the Eastern Conference at the time of writing, with games in hand. There is a long way to go but it would be a surprise if they were not among the top seeds heading into the playoffs.