Sebastian Giovinco has been left out of the Italy squad ahead of the 2016 European tournament. Of course, most US soccer fans know this since Major League Soccer has been up in arms over his omission, or at least Antonio Conte’s comments.
Giovinco played a small role, if any, in Italy’s qualification for this summer’s finals. Yes, he has been brilliant at Toronto, scoring 57% of their goals in 2016. However, Giovinco hasn’t played against the same level of talent as others selected in Conte’s provisional 30-man squad.
As James Horncastle pointed out in a recent article, the likes of Emanuele Giaccherini and Ciro Immobile both returned to Italy as their chances of making the squad waned. After returning, both have been selected for the provisional roster until Conte culls the castoffs.
The level of competition can’t be overlook in MLS. Tactics, skills and development are far behind those of Europe. Giovinco is the best player in the league, but he would be unable to duplicate his current form for top-tier teams in Europe. Although many will argue that point; Simon Borg, Landon Donovan or random fans, it can’t be denied that MLS’s talent level isn’t equal to the top leagues in Europe. Despite the level improving, it isn’t close right now.
Italian Andrea Pirlo made a great point this week in an interview in which he spoke about MLS’s level of play.
“They pick them and they train them in much more than just running,” Pirlo stated. “They train them in stopping the ball. Here that doesn’t happen.
“So when a young man becomes a professional in the United States he still has some gaps that need to be filled when playing on the field”
Giovinco had a great two-year spell at Parma from 2010-11, during a time when Parma finished 12th and 8th, respectively. His time at Juventus, before and after Parma, were less than stellar. The competition amongst places in Turin kept him out of the Juventus squad. That type of competition and skill is what Giovinco would face at the Euros, if he got into the Azzurriside.
The biggest problem for MLS is Conte’s criticism of the league will hurt player recruitment this summer. The league needs more players of Giovinco’s ilk: skillful, competitive and most importantly in his prime. The league needs less 30-something designated players and more players like Giovinco. If players are thinking about joining MLS, Conte’s omission of the Italian is another reminder that they must join at their own risk.