TFC close to adding some offensive help

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The long wait may be over for offensive help on the Toronto FC roster.

TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston is on the verge of signing Frenchman Laurent Robert to a Major League Soccer contract, according to reports in Europe yesterday.

Robert practised with the team yesterday at BMO Field, but neither Johnston nor TFC coach John Carver would identify the player wearing the No. 30 jersey as the swift scoring winger who played this past season in the English premiership with Derby.

Robert also has had stints with Newcastle, Portsmouth and SF Benfica.

At 32, Robert still has a few seasons left at soccer's top levels and probably could extend his playing life in the MLS.

"All I can say is that we are very close to signing a top player," Johnston said yesterday after practice. "We are in negotiations as we speak with his agent who is (in Toronto) with him."

Carver was only a bit more forthcoming, saying all there was left to do was "dot the i's and cross the t's" to get the player on board.

"I know him from England," Carver said. "And he would be a great addition to the club."

Robert played the wing on the left side at Derby but fell out of favour with the struggling club this season, starting only three games, the last one two months ago.

Also on the BMO field turf yesterday was Rohan Ricketts, a 25-year-old midfielder who played this season for Barnsley in the Championship League.

He also has played at Arsenal, Tottenham, Queen's Park and Wolverhampton.

Johnston did confirm that Ricketts is on trial with TFC and that he was impressive in workouts over the past two days.

"He could give us some offensive help on the right side," Johnston said.

TFC has about $800,000 in unused salary cap room that would be more than enough to sign Robert and Ricketts.

Johnston, however, said yesterday he was also in serious talks with another international player who he was trying to lure to Toronto.

Carver, meanwhile, quashed speculation that any new signings could upset the balance in the team's locker room.

"On the contrary. I think the lads see it as a positive sign that the club wants to get better," he said.

Johnston has been looking for help in the middle every since he traded Ronnie O'Brien to the San Jose Earthquakes in the off-season for a draft pick and allocation money.


Videos

Photos