I have met Earl Cochrane personally now on three separate occasions over the past few months and each time I have come away impressed with him as an individual. He comes across one on one as a thoughtful intelligent man who definitely is not just sitting around waiting for Jürgen Klinsmann to tell him who the new boss is. He is getting on with the job he has been entrusted with. At the Town Hall meetings last month that is exactly what he said he would do. That is what he should be doing.

And that is exactly what TFC needs.

In the past 24 hours there has been a flurry of activity on the player front that has seen Cochrane begin in earnest the process of rebuilding TFC for 2011 and beyond. Here is a brief recap of what has been happening.

  • O’Brien White was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday, and he was the only player TFC lost. He was subsequently traded to the Seattle Sounders. On a high salary and with a less than stellar return having him selected off our roster frees up $182,000 that can be spread around deserving players (Cann, Attakora, Gargan, etc.) deserving of a raise or used to sign new additions for 2011.
  • Five players were released outright yesterday as well. They are Maxim Usanov ($102,250.00), Martin Saric ($90,000.00), Gabe Gala ($40,000.00). Ravis Hscanovics ($120,250.00), Mista: ($167,000.00 for a half season DP deal plus the DP spot he filled is now open again).  Of those five the only one I would have thought worthy of retention was Saric, based on his ability and salary. The other four, Mista in particular, were wastes of both roster slots and precious cap space.
  • Adding up the salaries of these players along with White coming off the books, plus Ali Gerba’s and Carl Robinson’s contracts finally expiring, frees up almost $1.2 million.
  • Thursday Cochrane traded TFC’s first pick in January’s MLS SuperDraft to Seattle for young midfielder/fullback Nathan Sturgis. Sturgis is relatively young at 23 and already has five full seasons of MLS experience under his belt.  He is a versatile MLS type utility player that can play midfield or fullback positions and he comes quite cheap. His contract is just for a little under $70,000 which other than Gabe Gala, who was released yesterday, is cheaper than all the five others TFC got rid of yesterday.

So for better or worse Cochrane is getting on with the job. And that is exactly what he should be doing is it not?

Some TFC fans on the message boards today are stating that they would rather wait for the new front office group, whomever that turns out to be, to make decisions like releasing players or trading draft picks. I understand the sentiment, but I think that argument is a deeply flawed one. The MLS of today will not be the MLS that exists in a week or a month from now. For example Vancouver has already in just one day traded away four of the ten players they picked up in the Expansion Draft. Opportunities to improve TFC that may exist today or tomorrow may not exist in a month or two months from now or how ever long it takes for the new regime to be installed at BMO Field.

And the clock is ticking. Training camp opens in about seven weeks. The MLS 2011 season starts up again for Toronto FC in roughly 110 days, and as of last count there are now ten open roster spots to fill for next season, and a lot of contracts need to be renegotiated. Is just sitting around and waiting and waiting the right path to take to try and turn this club around? And with a lot of roster spots to fill do we want yet another season to begin where we are bringing in players after the season has started?

Mo Johnston is gone. And slowly but surely the mistakes of his tenure (poor player scouting, horrible contracts, and a poor relationship between the front office and the players) are being corrected and repaired. And they cannot be corrected or repaired passively. Of course we all want the club to get the front office situation settled sooner rather than later. And we all want the right people chosen to do the job.

Between now and then there is a club to run. And Earl Cochrane is running it. In the light of hindsight we will all have the time to judge what Cochrane has done for better or worse. But until Herr Klinsmann gives MLSE his suggestions as to who should be running the team going forward someone has to make these choices.

Decisions have to be made and they simply cannot wait. It is subjective of course whether you agree or disagree with what Cochrane is doing. For example one could argue that keeping a first round draft pick for a utility player like Nathan Sturgis is a no brainer. On the other hand Sturgis could be seen as a great bargain if the assessment is that the 2011 draft class is weak. We will see in time.

Earl Cochrane is our General Manager today. And whether he remains in the role or not in 2011 is besides the point. His title is Interim General Manager, but the words General Manager are still in the title. Good for him remembering it.


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