TORONTO - Good-bye, O’Brian White.
The forward was the only Toronto FC player selected Wednesday in Major League Soccer’s expansion draft. He was selected in the sixth round of the draft by the Vancouver Whitecaps, who then traded White to the Seattle Sounders for allocation money.
White goes west after a mostly unproductive two years in Toronto after being selected fourth overall in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. The 2007 MAC Hermann Award winner (collegiate soccer’s top player) has failed to return to form since tearing his ACL in his left knee during his senior year. White was eased into the first team as a professional, and ended up scoring four goals while tallying four assists in 33 games for Toronto FC.
Overall, White was largely disappointing for a club in desperate need of consistent goal-scoring and fluent attacking play.
“O’Brian had suffered a knee injury at college and I’m not sure if he’s ever fully recovered,” said Earl Cochrane, Toronto FC’s interim director of soccer. “He has struggled with his consistency a little bit and we hope a change of scenery will do the best for his career.”
A maximum of two players from every MLS team’s unprotected list were available for selection for either the Whitecaps or their fellow expansion team, the Portland Timbers.
Toronto FC designated player Julian de Guzman was among those left unprotected; a decision the club stands by.
“It was a decision we didn’t take lightly,” Cochrane said. “It was a collective decision, between myself, Jimmy (Brennan), Nick (Dasovic) and the coaching staff, and at the 11th hour from Soccer Solutions (consultant Juergen Klinsmann’s group).”
In fairness, de Guzman never was in any real danger of being selected. It never was a road the Whitecaps wanted to go down at this point in the early stages of their development.
“It’s too early to look at a Designated Player without securing the core of our squad,” Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said. “Julian is a great player, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know things haven’t gone well for him (in Toronto). I’m sure he’ll prove to be great player for TFC.”
Toronto FC also released five players Wednesday. Gabe Gala, Martin Saric, Maxim Usanov, Raivis Hscanovics and Mista were all given their walking orders.
Mista’s short tenure in Toronto was a fail of epic proportions, and arguably will go down as the worst Designated Player signing in MLS history. His only goal came in a memorable win over Mexican side Cruz Azul in CONCACAF Champions League play. Mista made only nine appearances in MLS action, tallying just one assist.
More than anything else, Mista will be remembered for a spat with Toronto FC’s coaching staff and a series of mysterious injuries that kept him out of the lineup.