Toronto FC on track

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston strikes a pose at the end of practice on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Michael...

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston strikes a pose at the end of practice on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Michael Peake)

DEAN McNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The mid-term report card is in and Toronto FC received a passing grade from coach Mo Johnston yesterday at the team's University of Toronto training facility.

Johnston said the team is in good shape a month into pre-season training with another month to go before the April 7 Major League Soccer season opener against Chivas USA in Los Angeles.

OPTIMISM

Johnston, however, tempered his optimism in the team as it stands now, saying he expects to add two or three more players with international or MLS experience before the start of the season.

"We just brought in Andy Welsh, who (most recently) played for Sunderland," Johnston said. "He has been very impressive so far."

Welsh, who played two seasons in the English Premiership, adds to Toronto's impressive list of forwards that includes Ronnie O'Brien, Edson Buddle and Abbe Ibrahim.

Welsh also brings experience from playing with Carl Robinson, the Welsh international midfielder, who will join the team next week in Bradenton, Fla.

If Johnston has a worry, it is that yesterday five of his potential starters were on the bench nursing various injuries. But they mostly were minor in nature.

"Right now we have a lot of money tied up sitting on the bench," Johnston said. "(Alecko) Eskandarian, Buddle, O'Brien and (Paulo) Nagamura all have minor injuries and (Maurice) Edu is still a month at least away from playing with a fractured pelvis.

"That's half a team right there."

It is in the back end of the pitch that Johnston has more concerns.

And it is in this area where Johnston likely is to add new faces to the club.

Already pencilled in for defensive jobs are first-round draft pick (10th overall) Andrew Boyens of New Zealand, as well as Canadians Adam Braz, Marco Reda, Chris Pozniak and goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

Toronto likely will have three signed keepers when the club breaks camp in Florida, but only Sutton is a sure thing.

Toronto native Jon Paul Piques, who played last year in Portugal, is in camp on a tryout with the team, as is Tomer Chencinski, a native of Thornhill.

Johnston said he still is looking for another experienced goalkeeper to join the team before the end of training camp.

"We are talking to one overseas keeper right now," he said.

"Hopefully something positive can come of that."

QUICK KICKS

Irish midfielder Ronnie O'Brien, no fan of Canada's winters, was all smiles yesterday when he was told that another snow and ice storm is headed toward Toronto later today. "I have a 7 a.m. flight so by the time the storm hits I'll be out of here," he said ... Uruguay's Jose Cancela made his first appearance this week in practice after weather problems in the United States kept him from getting a flight to Toronto until late Tuesday.


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