Toronto FC leaves some roster room

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:15 AM ET

Toronto's expansion Major League Soccer team has elected to start its inaugural season with some room to spare on its roster.

Coach Mo Johnston is required to file which players Toronto FC has under contract for the 2007 season with the league by tomorrow.

But a team source told Sun Media yesterday that while the first-year squad is allowed 28 signed players, Johnston will be handing in only 22 contracts for MLS approval.

That number jumps to 24 when forward Andy Welsh -- who most recently played with Sunderland in the English premiership -- and Tonga's Abbe Ibrahim, who is still waiting for a visa to be allowed to work in Canada, sign their contracts.

The MLS deadline for rosters is meant to get teams to trim pre-season numbers to 28, but teams can submit a lesser list and add to it later, up to the maximum.

OPPORTUNITY

"This leaves Mo with the opportunity to add an international player or two to the roster," a team official said.

Among the Canadians who have made the final cut are 20-year-old Richard Asante of North York and London native Tyler Hemming, 21.

Hemming will join three players from Canada's under 20 national team -- 19-year-olds A.J. Gray, Stephen Lumley and Andrea Lombardo -- on Toronto FC's development roster.

MLS rules allow each club to carry 11 so-called senior players , seven reserve players and 10 development players.

Toronto finished up its pre-season schedule last night with a 3-0 win over the Carolina Battery in Charleston, S.C.


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