It's crunch time for TFC

DEAN MCNULTY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

When the clock struck midnight last night the roster of Toronto FC, which has a meager 7-11-6 record this season, was frozen.

Yet coach John Carver is optimistic his starting 11 is good enough to challenge for a MLS playoff spot with six games remaining in the season.

Carver takes solace in the fact that the previous time he had a solid lineup devoid of injury or international call-ups the Reds went on a 6-2-1 tear.

He also said he was heartened by the positive attitude the club has been showing the past two days of training at BMO Field.

"Look at those lads out there," Carver said yesterday, "they are having fun. That shows they are a confident bunch."

The squad will have to get all that confidence going in the right direction as the season pretty much comes down to needing a victory Saturday in a game in Kansas City against the Wizards.

"It's pretty simple, we can't go to Kansas City and come back with fewer than three points," Carver said. "We (as coaches) know what we have to do. Let's see if (the players) do."

He admitted that anything but a victory will make a playoff run all but impossible.

Carver hopes that having a full roster, with an all-important solid bench, is the key to success for TFC.

"It's all well and good to have your best 11 out there," he said. "But it makes it that much better when you have strength on the bench as well."

While Carver is loathe to look past Kansas City, the first-year coach said he has been told by the team's owner -- Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. -- that it is committed to improving the team for next season.

"I can say right now that we are in the hunt for a designated player," he said. "And (MLSEL) is right behind what we want to do."

Carver said that with one season of MLS coaching under his belt, he better understands what TFC will need to get to the next stage of challenging for a league cup.

'READY TO UPGRADE'

"We're absolutely ready to upgrade," he said.

One of the upgrades Carver had hoped to make before the roster was frozen was to sign Hibernian midfielder Brian Kerr.

The 26-year-old native of Motherwell, Scotland was a protege of Carver when they were at Newcastle United.

"It was just a matter of dollars," Carver said of the failed negotiations.

"Brian liked everything about (TFC), we just couldn't agree on money before time ran out."

That doesn't mean Kerr is out of the picture, however.

Carver hinted that the Reds are pursuing Kerr for next season.

Meanwhile, TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston was on the road yesterday on "club business" that could very well be about the signing of a designated player.


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