TFC will go on without Cann

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

TORONTO - Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter spoke publicly for the first time since disgruntled centre-back Adrian Cann left the teams pre-season training camp earlier this week.

And the head coach isnt happy about it.

If any of the players are thinking theyre bigger than Toronto FC then theyre wrong, said Winter, speaking to Sun Media from Charleston, S.C. What hes done is unprofessional.

Cann, 30, was named Toronto FC team MVP by the club last season, and spoke openly in January about his desire for a re-negotiated contract.

Toronto FC announced in a press release Wednesday, the Canadian International had returned to Toronto hoping to continue contact re-negotiations while his teammates continued to prepare for the new season, set to begin March 19th.

According to Winter, Cann was offered two new improved contract options last month and was given ample time to decide whether to take one, or leave them both. Cann left camp and the improved offers are off the table.

I explained to him the situation and gave him two good (contract) options to stay. I still think hes a good defender, but what he has done is not good.

He went away against our wishes, explained Winter. Last season he signed a new contract and we knew he was unhappy so we offered him a contract with two good options. And weve given him a lot of time to think about it.

Winter says he talked contract with Cann multiple times this pre-season and offered him more money because he had shown well at camp. Winter would not reveal the terms of the contract offers, but did say the numbers originally published concerning Canns current contract (four years, last year at $65,000) were incorrect.

The door is still open for Cann to return to the team, but it will be on Toronto FCs terms.

He can come back under his old (contract) conditions. But when you let your team down by leaving, when you come back, everything wont be the same.

The ball is entirely in Canns court, but its hard to imagine he will return under the current terms. Toronto FC did indicate earlier in the week they have contacted Major League Soccer head office to discuss further options.

Winter doesnt have time to worry about Cann. Toronto FCs Dutch head coach has only been on the job for less than two months and is still going through the process of player evaluation, while at the same time rebuilding and re-teaching the technical approach to the game. A travel-intensive pre-season schedule hasnt made the process any easier.

It hasnt been a normal pre-season, but we have to deal with it. Two weeks in Turkey where the surface was good but the trip was too long.

Then Toronto for a week and the U.S. for two more and we still have a week more left, said Winter.

Winter admits things are coming along slowly; stressing it takes time to change mentality. The positives are the players are receptive and training sessions are getting better.

We need time and patience from the fans. They cannot expect in one and a half months for everything to be set. The entire system has been re-done, and getting it right takes time.

Time and patience is being preached when it comes to midfielder Julian de Guzman as well. Toronto FCs designated player has trained with the team for the past five days, being brought up to speed slowly in his recovery from off-season knee surgery. Winter will not rush the player, proceeding on the side of caution.

Toronto FC lost 1-0 to the Chicago Fire Saturday night in its opener of the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston. Marco Pappa scored for the Fire in the 6th minute.

Toronto FCs next game is Wednesday against the Charleston Battery. Kick-off is at 7:15 p.m.


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