Thursday, November 25, 2010

TFC and Whitecaps trade - Nathan Sturgis for the first round draft pick

Today TFC traded their first round pick in the upcoming college draft (8th pick, I think) for Nathan Sturgis. Sturgis had become a Whitecap through the expansion draft only yesterday, chosen from Seattle's unprotected list. He is listed as both a midfielder and a defender, although his playing time in Seattle this year was as a midfielder.
This move makes some sense, although it would have made less sense had TFC kept Sam Cronin. Sturgis is only 23 , but since he was a Generation Adidas pick (2006) he already has 5 years  in the MLS.  Whether Toronto attends the college draft with 5 or 6 picks is not a big issue.  The first round choice last winter was Zac Herold, the young man whose health ended his pro career before it began.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

6 players gone - OBW in the draft, 5 released with a farewell and a train ticket

Today saw the selection of O'Brien White in the expansion draft. The Vancouver Whitecaps took him in a move that I have been predicting for months. It is an understatement to call him a struggling striker in his time with Toronto. May he rejuvenate his career out in B.C., but not to the extent that he scores against Toronto.
Once the draft was over TFC released five players;  Gabe Gala, Martin Saric, Maxim Usanov, Raivis Hscanovics and Mista.
Gabe Gala has been with the team since year one and you knew when the team started adding Academy players to the roster that Gala's opportunity to grab a spot on this team had passed. He is only 21 years of age though, so he may find a pro soccer path one day. He retains his claim to fame, the only Toronto player to have scored against Real Madrid.
Saric, Usanov and Hscanovics' departures are also no surprise. This trio were Mo and Preki's big moves for 2010 and we all know how the season went. Saric was a tough tackler, but you felt that he was just a red card waiting to happen. Usanov showed some flair with bringing the ball forward. Enough flair that in the summer I thought that maybe he should be playing as a winger. That was also due to his habit of getting lost on defensive assignments far too often. Hscanovics had no impact and gave way to Nick Garcia at the left back position. That has to haunt him.
The departure of Mista was the least surprising of all moves today. He did score in the game against Cruz Azul. That might have been both his debut and his one highlight for the season. Economical of him. Economy was seldom a consideration when talking about Mista in Toronto. He was here on designated player money and it was a total waste of time. Adios Mista.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Toronto FC exposes a few for the expansion draft

According to SBI (Soccer by Ives) Toronto FC have made the following players available to the two expansion teams, Portland and Vancouver, for the expansion draft this Wednesday.

Toronto FC
Chad Barrett, Julian deGuzman, Gabe Gala, Nick Garcia, Raivis Hscanovics, Fuad Ibrahim, Milos Kocic, Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez, Joseph Nane, Amadou Sanyang, Martin Saric, Maxim Usanov, O'Brian White.
That means that the protected players are ;
Jon Conway
Nana Attakora
Dan Gargan
Adrian Cann
Dwayne De Rosario
Ty Harden
Nick Labrocca
Jacob Peterson
Stefan Frei (I)
Maicon Santos (I)
Emmanuel Gomez (I)
Home Grown:
Nicolas Lindsey
Doniel Henry

A few shockers and a few developments in that information. Protecting Gomez must be an indication that his health outlook is a positive one. Expose Chad and protect Peterson has me scratching my head. Protecting Nick Labrocca and exposing Amadou Sanyang is another puzzle.
 On one hand, perhaps the Designated Player salary of JDG makes him a tough pick for expansion teams, yet I thought he had a no-trade contract. Remember that TFC can have a max of two players taken and once one is picked they can protect another. So lose Chad, you protect JDG or vice versa. 
I think that Chad is tempting for Portland, OBW tempting for Vancouver. I am afraid that Chad Barrett is now the most likely unprotected Toronto player to be selected on Wednesday.

Conway protected and Kocic exposed seems to be a big vote of confidence in the big back-up keeper.
I would say that protecting Ty Harden is a pleasant surprise, he seemed to me to be one of the best salary bargains on the team. Keeping Gargan, Cann, Attakora makes a lot of sense.

Stay tuned, the expansion draft is only one aspect of the changes possible. Already there have been trades made as teams would prefer to get another player in return rather than the one way selection route.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Helping Herr Klinsmann take the TFC pulse or their is no there, there

I watched the press conference on TFCtv of Jurgen Klinsmann's introduction to the Toronto media today. It was a touch short of inspiring, what with Klinsmann being wise enough to promise little at the outset. However, I was a little worried when he talked about finding out what style of play Toronto wants and then hiring the folks that would deliver that brand of play. I think talent drives the style and we have had the hardest time attracting the talent. I think we want Klinsmann to graft on an aura of success more than merely provide feedback and analysis. Welcome to Canada, Jurgen. Do you remember the silky Canadian style of 86 in Mexico? Thought not. We will take whatever style allows the Reds to beat Columbus by four goals.

If you really need a Toronto style, here's my stab at it.
Speed and skill, strategy and depth.
The speed and skill part is a reflection of the gap between MLS and whatever league your average TFC fan has grown up with (EPL, Serie A, etc.,). The players we watch on tv from around the world think fast, move fast and have a silky first touch. We watch Toronto field players who lack speed and skill and seem to be learning on the job.
As for the strategy and depth part, the years have rolled by and the players on the bench seem to offer little. When Toronto FC makes a substitution it always seems that it is due to the starter picking up an injury or running out of gas. It never seems that the player coming in is bringing something specific, never mind something special. We know it is a salary cap team, but it would be nice to see more talent than we can play at one time and a coach who has more to say than "try your best".