In with the new for TFC at draft

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

Toronto FC’s biggest move at Thursday’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft had nothing to do with who they selected. The biggest name was the one they traded away.

In a move further helping pave the way for an influx of new recruits in the transfer window, Toronto traded forward Chad Barrett to the LA Galaxy for future considerations.

“This creates more cap space which will help us create a team capable of playing the style of soccer we are looking for,” Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter said.

On the surface, a goal-starved side trading away their second leading scorer from a season ago for financial flexibility is underwhelming. But a shrewd move like this is exactly what Toronto FC’s management had to do to set themselves up for future player movement.

Barrett, 25, signed a four-year contract extension with the club in 2008. The contract was widely considered an albatross, paying the inconsistent striker far too much money for his lack of production. Barrett made $212,500 US last season and his contract reportedly was to be bumped up into the $300,000 range for the coming season.

Barrett’s 16 goals in 65 MLS games for Toronto FC speak for itself. The player’s erratic play in front of goal never could make up for the consistent effort he gave on the field. Barrett was never going to be in TFC’s plans for 2011, with the team leaving the forward unprotected in last month’s Expansion Draft.

This time last year, Barrett had absolutely no trade value. And Toronto finding a taker for Barrett in the Galaxy, who were in need of a striker having lost talisman Edson Buddle to Europe and continue to be stuck in neutral in contract negotiations with Juan Pablo Angel, is as opportunistic as it gets.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Earlier in the day, reports out of Germany indicated FC Nurnberg striker Marek Mintal was finalizing a contract with Toronto FC. At time of print, there was some confusion whether the 33-year old former Slovakian International would be joining TFC or fellow MLS side, the Philadelphia Union.

It does however seem TFC’s leading scorer Dwayne De Rosario will be returning to Toronto in time for the start of training camp. Reports close to the situation earlier this week indicated Celtic wished to keep De Rosario on a short-term loan until the start of the MLS season. New reports out of Scotland, citing a high-ranking Celtic official say the Canadian International will not be offered an extended stay beyond the end of his trial, which wraps up Friday. De Rosario was unavailable for comment.

For now, De Rosario and fellow Canadian Julian de Guzman remain players making considerable salaries at a club shedding contractual obligations wherever they can. This off-season, TFC has ridded itself of high-paid, low impact players of the likes of Barrett, Nick Garcia, O’Brian White, Raivis Hscanovics, Fuad Ibrahim and Mista, to name a few. All in all, only 14 players remain from TFC’s roster last season.

Also on his way out at TFC, back-up goalkeeper Jon Conway was dealt to the Chicago Fire for the 49th pick in this years SuperDraft. With the pick, TFC selected exciting Ecuadorian attacking prospect Joao Plata. The diminutive striker’s pace caught the eye of many at the SuperDraft Combine earlier this week. It’s expected Plata dropped later in the Draft than originally expected due to questions whether his small size would be a liability in the ultra-physical MLS.

With their first pick of the day, Toronto FC selected 21-year old defender Demitrius Omphroy out of the University of California 26th overall in the second round. Omphroy is a full-back who’s comfortable on the ball and getting up the wings. In a draft of relative unknowns, Omphroy has the making of being a player suited towards the new direction of the team, while at the same time addressing a position of need for the club.

Toronto also selected defender Matt Gold out of Ohio State University and midfielder Junior Burgos out of Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo, with back to back picks in the third round, 43rd and 44th overall.

All in all, at first glance, Thursday’s SuperDraft can be seen nothing but a success for Toronto FC’s new front office. TFC gaining greater financial flexibility at a low cost, while adding young depth players to the fold has to be seen as a positive for a team headed in an entirely new direction.


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