Toronto FC up for stiff competition

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:01 PM ET

Toronto FC will not have to wait for the 2007 Major League Soccer season to open before facing a tough test in its inaugural campaign.

The team has been entered in the Carolina Challenge Cup March 24-31 on the way back from the club's Fort Lauderdale, Fla., pre-season training camp.

Toronto FC will be going up against a pair of established MLS teams -- including reigning champion Houston Dynamo -- as well as the home side, United Soccer League's Charleston Battery.

It is the fourth year for the tournament, which the Dynamo has won for the past two years.

Also in the tournament is Red Bull New York.

Each team will play each other once over the first three days, with one double header on each of those days.

The final will be played March 31.

"We need the games against MLS teams, and a quality USL team," Toronto head coach Mo Johnston said. "With the 2007 season just around the corner, this is what we need to prepare."

Tickets for the event -- at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island, S.C. -- will go on sale later this month and at that time, a tournament schedule will be released.

Meanwhile, Toronto FC's regular-season schedule is expected to be released soon after the 2007 MLS draft.

"As soon as the draft is complete, we expect to have our 2007 schedule complete," club communications director Michelle Lissel said yesterday.

The date for the draft is Jan. 12 in Indianapolis.


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