TFC: Ones that got away

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:59 AM ET

Toronto FC is four games into season No. 4, and already a total of 73 players have appeared in at least one MLS game for the club.

Talk about job turnover.

There have been local players, NCAA prospects, and an international crew carrying a United Nations’ worth of passports. From the United Kingdom to Gambia, from Honduras to Argentina, heck even New Zealand and Guatemala.

And, more than a few have gone on to do great things after they have left TFC. So, here’s a solid starting XI of former Reds. Note that this dream lineup never could have been in place, as some of these players were traded for each other. And, some of these players didn’t distinguish themselves as Reds, so it wasn’t a shock when they were let go or dealt. But the real question is the value that TFC got in return for these men; it’s all about asset management, right?

It’s a 4-3-3 formation. Preki tried utilizing this look in the Reds’ only win of the season, last week’s home opener vs. Philadelphia.

G: Will Hesmer

How acquired: 2006 expansion draft

How he left: Traded to Columbus for allocation money before TFC ever played a game.

OK, Hesmer didn’t play a game for Toronto FC. He is one of seven of 10 players TFC took in the draft that never played a game for TFC. And Tim Regan and Adrian Serioux only played for TFC after they’d been dealt away and returned — Regan as a one-game emergency fill-in. Hesmer has since gone on to become one of the best keepers in MLS, and helped Columbus to the 2008 MLS Cup.

FB: Todd Dunivant

How acquired: TFC traded defender Kevin Goldthwaite to New York for Dunivant in 2007.

How he left: Sent to the Los Angeles Galaxy for allocation money.

Dunivant’s time with Toronto FC was plagued by injuries, so we never really got the chance to see what he could do. Too bad. In Los Angeles, he has become one of the bricks in the league’s best defensive wall. He’s now regarded as one of the best left backs in MLS, if not the best.

FB Tyrone Marshall

How acquired: In a 2007 trade for Edson Buddle.

How he left: Sent to Seattle for allocation money before the start of the 2009 season.

Marshall isn’t spectacular; but he is a regular in the Seattle Sounders’ starting 11, and he and fellow defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado have made the Seattle backline one of the steadiest in MLS. Marshall’s strength is on set plays, clearing corners and scoring occasionally.

FB Marvell Wynne

How acquired: Former No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick was acquired from New York in 2007 for an allocation and a second-round pick.

How he left: Sent to Colorado days before 2010 season began for Nick LaBrocca and a third-round pick.

It’s still early to judge this deal, but Wynne’s conversion from a right back to a central defender has been getting rave reviews in Colorado. He’s one of the quickest players in MLS. In Sunday’s broadcast, Rapids colour man Marcelo Balboa questioned TFC’s decision to make this deal. “What was Toronto thinking to let a player like him go?” said Balboa after Wynne chased Chad Barrett down from behind and blocked a shot.

FB: Adrian Serioux

How acquired: (First time) 2006 expansion draft. (Second time) Acquired from FC Dallas for first-round pick in 2010 and allocation money.

How he left: (First time) Traded along with a second-round pick to FC Dallas for oft-injured, oft-complaining midfielder Ronnie O’Brien. (Second time) Sent to Houston for a third-round pick in 2011. (TFC is going to draft the hell out of that third round.)

Serioux was a warrior, pure and simple. Played hurt, and approached defending with the mentality of a hockey player. After Toronto FC announced in training camp that he wasn’t coming back, he eventually was sent to Houston in a deal partially orchestrated by MLS to smooth labour negotiations with the union.

M: Paulo Nagamura

How acquired: 2006 expansion draft

How he left: Traded to Chivas USA in 2007 in exchange for the Goats’ first-round pick in 2008. TFC used that pick to select Julius James, who played just a season for the Reds.

Nagamura went from obscurity to being one of the best midfielders in MLS in his time with Chivas. And, in the off-season, the former Arsenal youth-team player left MLS behind, signing with Tigres of the Mexican league.

M: Maurice Edu

How acquired: TFC’s first overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft.

How he left: MLS sells Edu’s rights to Glasgow Rangers in 2008 for approximately $5 million US. TFC receives a percentage of the sale price.

You can’t fault Toronto FC on this one. Edu was the deserved 2007 rookie of the year and was high on European shopping lists. After an injury-filled start to his career in Scotland, he is now a regular in the starting XI at Rangers, and scored a game winner against their hated rival, Celtic. Expect to see him playing for the U.S. in South Africa.

M: Carl Robinson

How acquired: Signed as a free agent

How he left: Sent to New York in 2010 for a fourth-round pick.

Twice named the team’s most valuable player, Robbo has yet to make an impact on a much-improved New York side because of knee injuries. He keeps telling reporters there’s a real dark side to the story of his departure from TFC, but he leaves it at that. A real fan favourite who still can have an impact in MLS.

F: Conor Casey

How acquired: Signed as a free agent, 2007.

How he left: Sent to Colorado for a third-round pick in 2008. Reds used that on Joseph Lapira, who never played in MLS.

Casey was one of the first signings in TFC history, brought over with much fanfare from Germany. Casey began the season on the subs’ bench, suffered from knee trouble that wasn’t helped by FieldTurf and asked for a trade. He was basically given away, and now has established himself as one of the best target men in MLS. Finished second in league scoring last season. He’s already the third-leading scorer in Rapids history and is arguably the most reliable penalty-kick taker in MLS.

F: Edson Buddle

How acquired: His rights were acquired in exchange for the rights to Tim Regan, who TFC selected in the expansion draft.

How he left: Traded to Los Angeles in 2007 for Tyrone Marshall.

Buddle, who had two assists in TFC’s first win, is off to the hottest goal-scoring start in MLS history, with seven goals in four games this season. Has moved himself into the picture for the United States national team at the World Cup.

F: Jeff Cunningham

How acquired: From Real Salt Lake in 2007 for a first-round pick in the 2008 SuperDraft (originally belonged to Houston) and Alecko Eskandarian

How he left: Traded to FC Dallas for a third-round pick in 2009 draft, which had no impact on TFC’s roster.Cunningham may be remembered as the most hated person in the eyes of TFC fans to date. He came in with 96 career goals, and lost his scoring touch. He often would dodge the media in the dressing room. He sulked. The final straw came when he wouldn’t lay out to tap in what would have been the winning goal against the Montreal Impact in the first Canadian championship. But, after leaving TFC, he rediscovered his magic, thanks a lot of FC Dallas’ outstanding playmaker, David Ferreira. Cunningham led the league in goals scored last season. As with Serioux, TFC dealt a first-round pick for a player and ended up with a third-rounder in the end.

steven.sandor@sunmedia.ca


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