Heady expectations for TFC

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

The first Toronto FC player to say "just happy to be here" could find himself shoved out the south end of BMO Field and tossed into Lake Ontario.

Everyone expects more from this team, mostly the surviving veterans of three training camps under restless general manager Mo Johnston, who almost is settled on a roster of experienced TFC players, youth and incoming MLS veterans.

"The standard has gone up immensely," defender Jim Brennan said as the team warmed up for Saturday night's season-opener in Kansas City.

"I think you need pressure. We can handle it and it can get us to where we want to be, a top club in this league. It has been night and day (compared to the first two years).

"The quality of players we've had in the training sessions has been fantastic. The first year, you're building, by the third year, you have expectations."

One of the players taking the lead in kicking butt has been Dwayne De Rosario.

The Scarborough-born midfielder kept watch on his home-town team's infant struggles from the safety of Houston Dynamo, but now that he is here, he is determined not to be accused of lapping up his four-year contract and the comforts of home.

"I didn't come here to relax," De Rosario said. "I came to win and get results.

"If I don't do that, I'm not satisfied, regardless of how many goals and assists I get this season.

"If it means scoring, fine, if it means me working hard off of the ball, fine.

"I'm not trying to be the same player I was (in Houston), I'm trying to be a better player. That's why I think I get the success I've had. This is my life, but it means a lot more to be playing in my hometown, so I want to raise my game to help raise the rest of the team's.

"If I can't do that, I have to question how much love and passion I have left for the game."

Such soul baring was music to the ears of head coach John Carver.

EXCITED

"When a local lad comes back to his hometown, you get extra output," Carver said.

"I know he's excited and he can't wait for it. It's a huge occasion for him and his family.

"He'll really thrive on it, that's for sure.

"He has been a model professional, everything we expected.

"Before we sign guys we do our homework. He's everything everybody says about him, the way he trains, the way he plays. He doesn't shirk his responsibilities."

Midfielder Carl Robinson says such attitude is infectious.

"My target, as a third-year player is that we must get in the playoffs," Robinson said. "If we don't, the players have failed.

"All my life I've played under pressure. We need to push some of these younger boys and put pressure on senior guys for spots on the roster. Players coming in have brought the quality up and you need that pressure to get results.

"Who knows what can happen if we get into one of the playoff positions? That has got to be a serious target."


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