FC introduces its future

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

The top pick in Major League Soccer's SuperDraft last Friday wasn't ready for what greeted him yesterday morning before he was introduced to the media as Toronto FC's history making first draft choice.

Remember, Maurice Edu was born and raised in San Bernardino, Calif.

"I didn't think Toronto would be this cold," Edu said of waking up to the city's first real taste of winter this season.

He said, however, it won't change his high opinion of the place he expects to move to as soon as the winter semester ends at the University of Maryland.

"Every single person I have spoken to about Toronto has told me what a wonderful city it is," Edu said.

"So unless they were all lying I can't wait to get back here to start pre-season training."

The 20-year-old midfielder said he wanted to be careful not to be star struck when starting his professional career, especially in a season that will see David Beckham in the MLS as well as a few other top international players.

"Regardless of who is playing or who isn't playing, I just want to set some goals for myself and start pursuing them," Edu said.

Joining Edu at yesterday's rookie unveiling were midfielder Rich Asante of North York and forward Jeff Gonsalves of Markham, taken in the third and fourth rounds.

Like Edu, both Asante and Gonsalves are set to go back to the University of Syracuse and University of Rhode Island respectively to complete their senior years, but each expressed hope of making Toronto's lineup come April when the MLS kicks off.

"I was really hoping that no one would pick me before Toronto," Asante said yesterday. "I want to play in front of my family and friends."

He said that he had an idea that Toronto was interested in him after he talked to FC coach Mo Johnston during the open tryouts earlier this month.

DREAM COME TRUE

Gonsalves was a pre-draft top-10 choice but a bout with mononucleosis knocked down his stock as he wasn't able to attend the MLS combine in Florida a week before the SuperDraft.

"I am very happy and very excited," the 21-year-old Gonsalves said. "I grew up watching (FC midfielder) Jim Brennan play and the fact that I get to maybe train and play and learn from him and others is a dream come true."

Johnston said he was actually happy that Gonsalves had mono, not that he wished ill for the youngster, but because it kept him from attending the combine.

"Gonsalves scored 18 goals this season for Rhode Island and I knew if he had come to the combine other coaches would have been all over him," Johnson said. "As for Asante, I was worried that after he scored a perfect 30-footer late in the combine that he wouldn't be around for us."

Toronto's second choice in the draft -- 23-year-old defender Andrew Boyens from New Mexico State -- was unable to attend yesterday's event.


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