No Peles in the pile

Hopefully, goalie Andrew Jones and player Gord Willemse had fun

Hopefully, goalie Andrew Jones and player Gord Willemse had fun "trying out" for Toronto FC yesterday. According to assistant coach Bob Gansler, there wasn't a single player who realistically has a chance to make it. (Toronto Sun/Mike Peake)

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:23 PM ET

VAUGHAN -- Toronto FC coaches yesterday denied that an open tryout, where 1,000 hopefuls showed off their skills, was nothing more than a public relations exercise for the new Major League Soccer team.

But in the same breath they did admit that to expect any of the wannabes to actually make the big club would be unrealistic.

Assistant coach Bob Gansler was blunt in his assessment of the talent he had seen in the first half of the three-day tryout.

"I didn't see anyone who was even close to having the physical conditioning to play at the MLS level," he said.

Gansler, however, defended the club's decision to hold an open audition to precede Toronto FC's inaugural season.

"To the South American and European purists this might be a strange proceeding," he said. "But when you have a new club looking for talent you can't leave any stone unturned.

"Is it likely (to find a budding star)? No. Is it possible? Yes. And if it's possible then it's worth doing."

Gansler said that club coaches were able to cull a few players from the hundreds who had already played a six-on-six 60-minute game.

"We did see one or two (Monday) and another one or two (yesterday) who we might want to take another look at," he said.

But Gansler said the vast majority of young players who attended the tryouts shouldn't consider not being picked as a failure.

"I think for those young players it's always a matter of having to do something like this to get better," he said. "They should come away from this inspired a little bit."

The problem for at least one Toronto FC aspirant -- 24-year-old Ernest Asante of Ottawa -- was that being thrown into a group where talent level varied wildly wasn't a good way to show off his skills.

"Most of the guys on my team weren't in very good shape," Asante said. "I almost had to do everything by myself. Soccer is supposed to be a team game, but since those guys weren't in good shape we couldn't get any flow to our game."

Asante, a midfielder, was one of the players who came to the tryouts thinking he had a chance to make Toronto FC because he already was playing at an elite level.

"The past two years I have been playing for the North York Astros of the Canadian Professional Soccer League," he said.

Gansler admitted bunching players together without knowing anything about their talent levels may not have been the perfect way to assess them.

"When you have only 30 minutes or 60 minutes to look at a player it's an inexact science," he said.

Gansler said, however, he would consider the tryouts a "rounding success" if even a handful of players advanced to a pre-training camp tryout.


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