Toronto FC heads south

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Bon voyage, Toronto FC. Bring back something good.

It was a quick in and out for TFC last week. Time to exodus the cold as the team moves training camp to a more climate-friendly Bradenton, Fla., on Monday.

The team is at least hoping for warmer weather -- anyone in attendance at Major League Soccer's draft combine last month in Fort Lauderdale can attest the weather was comparable to Canadian temperatures and conditions. Torontonians will have little sympathy, no matter the weather.

All TFC faithful want is additions to the team. And the auditions for roster spots begin this week.

A 10-day mini camp for trialists kicks off over the next two days. The team has brought in a collection of quality players, some of who may fetch reasonable contract offers when all is said and done.

Head coach Preki was instrumental in the recruitment of many of them, mostly out-of-contract European-based players -- including former Portuguese International defender Jorge Andrade.

Fresh blood coming into camp is always exciting. And it is no secret Preki is less than impressed at the roster he has inherited.

The returning roster is anything but impressive. TFC may only have a few more building blocks in place than the expansion Philadelphia Union, and that's depressing.

The off-season acquisitions of Jacob Peterson, still on the road to recovery from an ACL injury, and 17-year old Zac Herold, do little to satisfy short-term needs. Director of soccer Mo Johnston and Preki are working hard to get things done, but subtraction of players is not sufficient.

Until the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place (a soft Feb. 12 deadline is in place), all MLS clubs are at a disadvantage.

Roster movement this off-season has been virtually impossible, not knowing what kind of limitations the new CBA will have on the salary cap and/or roster spots.

Johnston and TFC have been left keeping their fingers crossed that a new deal gives them greater flexibility.

Because of the unknown and TFC's lack of cap space, it's hard to get excited about any trialist, Andrade included.

It's not about whether a player impresses while on trial or not. It's all about the contract. If a player comes cheap at a position of need, he'll be a prime candidate for a roster spot. If a player shines but commands too high a salary, TFC will let him walk.

This is a brutal way of going about business, but so is life in Major League Soccer.

With a promising expansion team in Philadelphia and new stadia, it's irresponsible of the league and its players to let the situation drag out this long.

But the league's shortcomings are no excuse for the predicament TFC finds itself in. The pressure to win after a putrid Year 1 forced Johnston to look for a short-term solution to put a winner on the field.

DRIED UP

In doing so, he spent considerable allotment dollars, allowing TFC to spend above the cap. Now, the allotment money has dried up to a certain degree and TFC is left with little flexibility.

TFC's own mismanagement has put them in the position where they are in danger of not re-signing Canadian defender Adrian Serioux for contractual reasons. Even more disconcerting is the suggestion TFC may lose an international player roster spot with the new CBA. This adds fuel to the rumours one American goalkeeper, either Stefan Frei or Brian Edwards will have to be traded.


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