Trialists can make impact

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Trialists had a major impact in Toronto FC's 0-0 draw with D.C. United in MLS preseason action in Bradenton, Fla. on Wednesday.

Toronto FC featured 37-year-old Paul Dickov in attack, who was dangerous throughout the first half.

But the best chance of the game fell to Reds prospect Kosta Bajic, who saw his shot come back off the crossbar.

Goalie Hunter Gilstrap, who played with Cleveland City of the USL last season, played the first half for TFC, while last year's backup Brian Edwards, was between the sticks in the second half.

Coach Preki was pleased that he really couldn't get a feel for what either 'keeper could do.

"The best thing about it is that our goalkeepers never touched the ball the whole game, never had to make one save, not even a cross, so that was really good to see," Preki told the team's website.

The amount of trialists at TFC camp, and that we are seeing throughout the league, is a sign that, more than ever, MLS front offices are leaving few stones unturned in their searches for affordable help.

TFC's first two goals of the preseason, in a 1-1 draw with the University of Central Florida and a 1-0 win over the University of Southern Florida, came from trialists. Dan Gargan, who made 49 appearances for the Colorado Rapids before joining the Puerto Rico Islanders of the United Soccer Leagues, and Ugandan Vincent Kayizzi are the two Reds to score so far.

Dickov has played for a boatload of English clubs, but his best years came at Manchester City, where he scored 35 times in 158 appearances. But, if one game is an indication, he looked as if he could handle the pace.

Here's a look at a few more trialists who could make an impact:

New York Red Bulls: Former Toronto starter Greg Sutton is still hanging on in his trial. He impressed during the team's preseason tour of Europe, allowing one goal in two appearances. The team released one of its two returning keepers, Danny Cepero, but Sutton is also battling Bill Gaudette, who, as a Puerto Rico Islander shut out TFC over 180 minutes in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifier last season.

Houston Dynamo: Coach Dominic Kinnear has to replace his two best midfielders, Stuart Holden and Ricardo Clark, who both left MLS for jobs in Europe. Losing the team's best distributor and best ball-winner is tough. But the team is looking at Leandre Griffit, a French midfielder who spent time with Southampton and Crystal Palace. At 25, he's looking to resurrect his career.

Kansas City Wizards: It's pretty easy to compare former Toronto FC midfielder Rohan Ricketts with Ryan Smith. Both are products of the Arsenal youth academy. Both were considered blue-chip EPL prospects. Both had their careers go off the rails. Ricketts had one decent MLS season and flamed out; Smith is in K.C., and has impressed so far in camp, looking to crack the Wizards in some kind of wing role.

Chicago Fire: If the trial of Collins John works out, Chicago could feature two ex-Fulham strikers up top, with U.S. vet Brian McBride already in place. John scored 20 times in 95 appearances for Fulham, but struggled after moving down a division to Leicester City in 2008. He's a natural goal-scorer; and one dynamic scorer is what separates the Fire from being a perennial playoff team to an MLS Cup contender. John scored twice in a 4-1 preseason win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Monday night.

New England Revolution: Chilean striker Reinaldo Navia scored goals in bunches in the Mexican league, and was a part of the Chile squad at the 2000 Olympics. He's the major non-roster invitee to the Revs' camp. The Revs desperately need to get Taylor Twellman some help at the top of the formation.


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