Gerba: What TFC needs

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

You'll have to look quickly to see Canadian forward Ali Gerba in Toronto FC colours this month.

He was on the pitch yesterday at BMO Field, but with his contract not yet finalized with Major League Soccer and Team Canada calling him away for Gold Cup duty in Los Angeles later this week, it's going to be mid-July before he's cleared.

As expected, yesterday's release of the 23-man Gold Cup roster included Gerba, and not TFC midfielder and Nutrilute Canadian championship scoring star Dwayne De Rosario. TFC's Kevin Harmse was included as a depth player, a nod to his ability to play both defence and midfield and quite likely to keep relations between the nationals and TFC cordial after the MLS team complained of being stripped of too many players by the national squad.

De Rosario and defenders Adrian Serioux and Jim Brennan had a good idea what their Gold Cup status would be before yesterday's announcement, De Rosario electing to stay put at a critical time for his new team.

DE RO POLITE

"Dwayne was very polite and felt right now he had to be in a situation he wanted to be comfortable with," Canadian coach Stephen Hart told a conference call yesterday.

Former Toronto goalkeepers Greg Sutton and Kenny Stamatopoulos were named to the squad. Canada opens the Gold Cup against Jamaica on July 3 in L.A.

Gerba's playing rights were acquired from San Jose in the trade that brought defender Nick Garcia here last week, but getting the details sorted out between MLS, FIFA and Gerba's agent has proven to be difficult. He was released by the English side Milton Keynes Dons earlier this year.

The media could photograph Gerba at yesterday's workout, but not talk to him.

What coach Chris Cummins did observe of the 200-pound Gerba, who was wearing the No. 10 of recently released midfielder Rohan Ricketts, the boss certainly liked.

"We keep saying we're going to bring the right player in at the right time," Cummins said. "He's a fantastic athlete and a goal scorer, which is something we've needed.

"He's a big guy and you can see when the ball comes into him, he shields it well and brings others into the game. He scored a few goals today.

"He's going to bring a lot of athleticism, hunger and desire. We're building something special and that doesn't happen overnight. If you want short success, you'll only get that and won't be happy.

"It's important we get the right players in who'll be here for years to come and put the team in good stead."

Gerba was born in Cameroon and lives in Montreal.

TFC was given a couple of days to bask in its improbable win in Montreal last Thursday, six straight goals to beat the USL Impact 6-1 to win the Nutrilite Canadian championship.

The win puts TFC into the first round of the CONCACAF club championships against the Puerto Rico Islanders.


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