Field of gripes

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Toronto FC coach John Carver is sick and tired of players using his club's Field Turf as a reason for either leaving or not signing with the Major League Soccer side.

Two players in particular -- midfielder Ronnie O'Brien, who sought a trade after last season, and striker Darren Huckerby, who cited BMO Field as the reason he didn't want to play in Toronto -- came under fire from Carver yesterday.

"I'll be anxious to see if those two players are on the pitch," Carver said of the pair who now play for the San Jose Earthquakes, TFC's opponent tomorrow afternoon at BMO.

Carver said there is a huge misconception about the carpet at BMO Field that even he fell victim to prior to his arrival as coach this season.

"I'll be honest with you, I was concerned about it when I first arrived," he said. "But I have seen nothing in terms of injury to our players that can be blamed on the pitch."

In fact, Carver said TFC injuries are well behind the league average this season.

O'Brien had complained that a series of knee injuries that led to surgery last season, were exacerbated by the BMO Field turf, and Huckerby, a highly sought after goal scorer from English Premier side Norwich City, was traded to San Jose earlier this week after he said he preferred the grass at Buck Shaw Coliseum.

The turf also could be one reason why Fulham's Brian McBride has so far refused to sign with TFC.

"We had (artificial turf) at the academy (at Newcastle) and a lot of players wouldn't play on it," Carver said. "But I think because (players) have grown up on grass, they automatically think Field Turf is bad. But it isn't."

Meanwhile, Carver said the search by TFC executives for a goal scorer is going ahead.

With the European transfer season in full swing, TFC likely will wait until the big money has been spent before jumping into the market.

HELP NEEDED

On the McBride front, the 36-year-old striker was named to the U.S. Olympic team yesterday and, coincidentally, will play alongside TFC's Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne, who also were selected.

And a report yesterday said the Chicago Fire -- McBride's hometown team -- may ask the MLS to help them pry the striker's rights from TFC.

Asked about the report, TFC boss Mo Johnston offered a simple: "No comment."

Carver certainly could use the help up front against San Jose as the club will be without Edu -- who will serve a one-game suspension for his accumulation of yellow cards -- and Danny Dichio, who is still suffering the after effects of a concussion.


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