Important Dates for TFC
With the off season now upon us TFC fans might not be focused too much on what the club is doing considering that it will be roughly four months and a week before the Champions League first leg quarter final takes place in Toronto (at an as yet unannounced location).
But there are a number of really important milestones that are fast approaching that will have a significant impact on the rebuilding process for the Reds and what their roster will look like come Champions League time in March.
Today I thought I would take a brief look at some of the more important milestones that many keen TFC observers might want to cast a glance at in future weeks that will each go a long way towards answering many of the questions we all have as to what the 2012 version of our club might end up becoming.
Mark your calendars people!
Montreal Impact Expansion Draft – November 21st & 23rd
With our noisy neighbours making the jump into MLS from NASL they will be partially stocking their new franchise the same way TFC and Vancouver did, namely through the MLS Expansion draft process. The draft will take place on Wednesday, November 23rd and TFC must submit their protected list of players to the league offices no later than November 21st. As in past years, the expansion draft will last 10 rounds, meaning the Impact will select 10 players in total. TFC gets to protect 11 players from the 2011 roster, though there are several categories of players who have special status and can’t be taken by the Impact. Generation Adidas players and homegrown players on the team’s off-budget Roster players for example are automatically exempt without taking up one of TFC’s eleven protected spots. Designated players do not have to be protected unless the player’s contract includes a no-trade clause. And each club can only lose at most only one player. I will as we get closer to the November 21st deadline write more about the players who I think might and might not be protected. As well do not expect any players on TFC to get released before November 21st according to a source within the club as releasing players now only makes it harder for TFC to get through the expansion draft unscathed.
MLS Re-Entry Draft – December 5th and 12th
Two rounds of the second annual MLS Re-Entry Draft take place early next month. The idea of the Re-Entry Draft is to give MLS veterans released and out of contract a chance to come back into the league with a new team. If a player is selected in the first round then the club selecting him must offer a “bona fide” offer which equals what they would get in an option year of their previous contract. In English that means veterans on a big wage have a small chance to have any other MLS club to pick them up on their old wage. If they fall to the second round then they have a short window where their old contract gets turfed and a new contract can be renegotiated between the two parties for any amount within the salary cap. Last season TFC only had one player eligible for the Re-Entry Draft (Nick Garcia) and he was not selected by any other club. Some clubs like DC United had some success in choosing veterans Joseph Ngwenya and Josh Wolff respectively last season via this process who both gave them significant minutes in 2011. Bottom line is that although it was not an earth shattering event last year this process should not be discounted completely out of hand. Last season the Reds did not choose anyone. But who knows, perhaps a nice veteran who could fill a role as a depth player or as a veteran leader in the dressing room might show up in the draft and be worthy of a look. Again like in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft, the Reds get to pick 4th overall in each round.
MLS SuperDraft – January 12th
The annual SuperDraft takes place in Kansas City next year and is slightly different in 2012 than in previous seasons. The Draft is now only made up of two rather than three rounds. There will be 38 overall picks made from the US College and Generation Adidas ranks and TFC gets three of those 38. They choose 4th overall in rounds one and two and depending where the Red Bulls end up TFC will get their first round pick as part of last year’s “DeRo to Red Bulls” deal at some point later in the first round. Having a top four draft pick gives TFC a real chance of landing a player who might be near to fighting for a starting XI place next season, or he could turn out to be a bust.,,, who really knows eh? TFC has had both in their short history. Nevertheless it will be an interesting day once it happens. Trades between MLS clubs also often happen on Draft Day.
MLS Supplemental Draft – January 17th
Round Three of the old SuperDraft (the round last year where TFC drafted Joao Plata for example) is now part of the Supplemental Draft which takes place via a conference call one week after the regular Draft takes place. There are four rounds here with TFC picking 4th, 23rd, 42nd and 61st overall and thanks to the “Joseph Nane to Colorado” trade last season they also get the Rapids first round pick as well. Again it’s a hit or miss kind of proposition here but for us footy geeks its still an interesting day, and a lot of fun to speculate as to who the Reds pick. Generally these supplemental picks get an invite to camp where they then fight for a contract with no guarantees.
MLS Transfer Window Opens – January 21st
Running well into the spring of 2012 the transfer window for players coming from other leagues into MLS opens in late January. Previous GM Mo Johnston famously used to wait for late in the transfer windows to sign players with the usual result of the Reds ending up not becoming near to a finished article before tons of points were dropped. I am sure that most TFC supporters would hope that Aron Winter does not follow suit with what is now a very much discredited approach, especially with the Champions League looming large.
So there you have it. The off season is here. But the wheelings and dealings are really going to start in earnest in probably three weeks time and for about two months then on the roster news will probably be coming fast and furious.
More to follow I am sure.