TFC holds trump card

GARETH WHEELER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

Who knew ending up in last place could be such a good thing?

With its infamous goalless streak and a year of futility in the rearview mirror, Toronto FC continues to roll forward. And while doing so, it just so happens to have a golden ticket in its back pocket.

With that last-place finish in 2007, TFC is the first holders of allocation rights -- meaning, it has first shot at the rights for American forward Brian McBride.

When McBride decided not to return to Fulham in the Premiership next season, his next destination seemingly his hometown Chicago Fire.

STUMBLING BLOCK

The one stumbling block, however, was allocation rights. TFC has them and wants either McBride or, as general manager Mo Johnston puts it, "something big" in return.

Who knew allocation rights could be such a cool thing?

It's only a matter of time before a deal between the two sides is struck. But the Fire is angry that Toronto is playing hard ball, and Mo is quite content to sit on the rights until he gets a suitable ransom.

It seems more likely that a third team will have to get involved to make the deal work, both personnel-wise and logistically.

Rumours are flying that Toronto is demanding the inclusion of Chicago's young stud, Justin Mapp, in any potential deal.

The Fire will not agree to this. It views Mapp's upside as being too great to give up for a 35-year old McBride. The Fire wants to win now, but is not willing to mortgage its future.

Also, Chicago requires a "designated player" spot, something Toronto has, but seems unwilling to part with.

If TFC continues to build as it has, it will use the spot to better its chances at an MLS Cup for next season.

So Toronto needs a player that makes it better, and Chicago needs a designated player slot?

Enter the Houston Dynamo into the equation.

Speculation has surfaced that Houston may be sniffing around, trying to get in on a potential deal.

Despite its recent form, the Dynamo has struggled this campaign, stuck in a group of mediocre teams in the West, falling way short of its championship form of a couple of years ago.

Truth be told, Houston looks old, meaning it might be headed toward a rebuilding phase.

If this is the case, some of its veteran stars may be available. Toronto native Dwayne De Rosario -- a bonafide MLS star in Houston -- could be exactly what TFC needs.

De-Ro is a guy who is recognizable in soccer circles in this city and has the talent to match.

Now, it has yet to be determined if Houston would trade away De Rosario. But the combination of what TFC and the Fire have to offer could be too tough for the Dynamo to refuse.

Toronto should do whatever it can to land De-Ro. Is there anyone on TFC now -- with the exception of Maurice Edu -- who is not untouchable if it means getting De Rosario in return? Not a chance.

So good for Johnston for playing hard ball.

PLAYING HIS CHIP

Chicago's technical director, Frank Klopas, can campaign all he wants about TFC being unreasonable but, really, all Johnston is doing is playing a chip he has been given to strengthen his team.

Forget about what McBride and Chicago want. You don't become a winner by being a nice guy.

If Mo really has his eyes on "something big" nothing is bigger than De Rosario.


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