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Italy manager Antonio Conte did not have the kindest things to say about Major League Soccer on Tuesday, citing the league’s quality of play as the reason why he chose to leave Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco off his final 30-man roster for this summer’s European Championship.
“We evaluated them technically, we didn’t leave anything to chance,” he added. “Anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, we went everywhere to have clear and precise ideas. I picked the 30 who I think will give me the most guarantees.”
Basically, because Pirlo and Giovinco play in MLS, they are not technically prepared to play against the top players in the world at this summer’s Euro. That is certainly some harsh and unambiguously anti-MLS reasoning from Conte, not to mention a complete 180 from the previously positive remarks he’d made about Giovinco’s move to Toronto FC.
There is perhaps an argument to be made that Pirlo, who is 37, is far enough past his prime to play for his national side, but Giovinco’s snub is inexcusable. Not only is he the best player in MLS, he’s one of the most beguiling offensive midfielders in the sport. Not to mention that he has been successful for several top clubs in Europe – including Juventus, where he was coached by Conte.
Conte may not be the first European manager to shamelessly look down upon MLS, but his reasoning – as NBC Sports notes – does nothing to help the league’s reputation abroad. MLS is growing, and the quality is improving. When Conte arrives stateside in August for a summer tour with his new club, Chelsea, he should expect to be met with some boos.