Reds will have to think fast

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

Ever since his arrival this spring, Toronto FC coach John Carver has been preaching the virtues of having a team with "pace."

Everything has to happen quickly. He talks quickly. His players have to move the ball quickly. And, now Reds fans are going to have to think quickly to keep up with an ever-evolving lineup card.

The Reds face losing key players soon to international duty. It could leave folks feeling a little conflicted. One day Amado Guevara is a good guy; the next he's holding the dagger for Honduras against a Canadian national side.

"I'm not one to look beyond the next game but I've had to with the international matches coming up," Carver said yesterday. "Everyone knew that this would happen and that's why we have to build up the squad and make sure we've got plenty of depth."

Captain Jim Brennan believes TFC can withstand the whirlwind comings and goings. "If a player does go missing we have someone who can fill in whereas last year we didn't. There are guys looking for chances to play so even if (Maurice Edu) goes we've got Kevin Harmes who can do the job. Joey Melo is pushing for the middle spot. We're at a point on this club now where we've got guys fighting to get in."

Carver noted the sterling play of Jarrod Smith in reserve games. But there continues to be talk of outside help. Carver was in England last week and renewed acquaintances with what he described as "top" level people. Asked if one of them happened to be named "Darren," he laughed and countered with: "Darren Who?"

Reports from England have resurfaced that Toronto is interested in former Norwich player Darren Huckerby. Carver declined to say if Huckerby might show up in a Toronto FC uniform but didn't deny the possibility either. "We've said all along we're not stopping with what we've got. And the one thing we can do at the moment is sign players who are without a contract. He's one that's out of contract. He's one that we've talked about. But, as it stands at the moment, nothing has happened," Carver said.

Toronto has a growing Canary enclave with Huckerby's ex-teammates Jim Brennan and Carl Robinson plying their trade with the embryonic franchise.

"I haven't talked to him in a while," Brennan said yesterday. " I played with him at Nottingham Forest and at Norwich as well. I don't know whether he wants to come but I'd think he would be a welcome addition. At the same time we have guys on the wing doing the job for us and I think Hucks would have a hard time getting in. But it would be good. You need guys fighting for spots."

With half his starting lineup potentially on international duty, Carver needs reinforcements. He notes Huckerby could fit. "I'm looking for players to improve the side. He's certainly one player that would take the side in the right direction, yeah!"

Huckerby scored five goals for Norwich before getting the push. "There are options but I'm not going into them," Huckerby's agent, Phil Smith, told Pink-'un Magazine in Norwich. "It is too early to tell where Darren is going."

So already Huckerby has something in common with Carver, who doesn't know where his players are going either. Guevara, as Honduran captain, has to answer his country's call or risk being labelled a traitor. So, count him gone. Marvell Wynne is one of the Americans' emerging young players along with Maurice Edu. Both are on the national team training roster.

Carl Robinson is looking to hit the half-century mark in caps for Wales and Tyrone Marshall is a lynch pin in the Jamaican national side. Toronto also has Greg Sutton and Brennan, who rank as potential players for Canada.

"I had a nice long chat (with Canadian coach Dale Mitchell) during the reserves game against New York. He hasn't said who he's going to use yet. I think," said Carver, "as long as everyone is sensible ... we can get along and build a good relationship."

Meantime, buy a program -- it could be the only way to tell good guys from the bad guys.


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