Maybe Toronto FC director of soccer Mo Johnston has some kind of backroom deal cooked up with Philadelphia Union boss Piotr Nowak. Or, maybe the newest member of the Scottish Football Hall of Fame has developed a penchant for Russian roulette. Or high-stakes poker.
It might explain the decision to leave goaltender Brian Edwards exposed for today’s expansion draft. Yes, bigger names like Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson — along with their hefty salaries — are available. But a player like Edwards, just two years out of college and making less than US$50,000 a season, is the kind of bargain a shopper like Nowak might not be able to turn down as he looks to stock his club for the 2010 season.
Edwards has done nothing but be a model citizen for TFC. He came in and spelled Greg Sutton effectively in 2008, then was caught in the numbers game when Stefan Frei came out of the 2009 draft and took the No. 1 job. After Sutton was released, and Frei got hurt, Edwards was excellent in two of the team’s final three games of the season. It’s hard to judge him in that final 5-0 loss to New York that wrecked the TFC season; on that night, the entire team was swept up in disinterest.
Even though Frei was nominated for MLS rookie of the year in 2009, Edwards has Frei trumped in a couple of areas. Edwards is better on crosses and corners, and his distribution on throws and goal kicks also beats Frei.
No matter what the next collective bargaining agreement brings, there is no denying that an American making very little offers a lot to an expansion team. He’s not much of a hit against whatever the cap will be, and he doesn’t hurt a team’s international allocations.
Oh, and he’s got plenty of potential to be a true MLS No. 1. Maybe Johnston saw this. Maybe he thought that with Frei starting for the forseeable future, it’s time to let Edwards go.
But to lose a player like Edwards in an expansion draft, rather than a trade, is a real shame. A player with that much potential should get a club something in return.
If I’m Nowak, I call Johnston’s bluff.
24 hours sports editor steven sandor has written about the beautiful game for numerous publications around the globe. he appears wednesdays in 24 hours.