TFC Backs Up The Moving Van… Again
I have to admit I was a bit surprised.
With the transfer window opening on Friday I did not expect that there would be three players on the move out and two new players moving into the dressing room at BMO Field one day in advance of the window opening. Add to that the fact that neither of the two players coming in was a centre back, let alone that one of them was coming from growing rival Vancouver and I think the word surprise does not really do it real justice.
Before I take a look at the specifics here are the broad brushstrokes of the moves that Toronto FC made today.
- Traded an undisclosed amount of allocation money and future considerations to the Vancouver Whitecaps for midfielder and Canadian International Terry Dunfield.
- Traded defender Nana Attakora, striker Alan Gordon and midfielder Jacob Peterson to the San Jose Earthquakes in return for striker RyanJohnson, an undisclosed amount of allocation money and an International roster slot that goes back to San Jose on January 1st 2013.
On first blush the three specific players leaving make a certain amount of sense.The two coming in are only part of the story. The rest comes starting on Friday.
Jacob is a domestic player in MLS. He is on a big wage relative to his ability ($143,000 guaranteed compensation this season) and at the start of the 2011 campaign his contract was one of the last of the really bad Mo Johnston era signings still on the books with TFC after Winter/Mariner cleaned house in the off season. Plus he was a commodity with which TFC has significant quantities of, namely interchangeable run of the mill MLS midfielders. If the assumption is that you can move a guy like this along, unload another Mo contractual mistake and fill other needs then it certainly looks sensible. A lot of fans have given him stick. I certainly was one of them last season when he looked like an overpriced under-talented mistake of a acquisition. This year I think he looked better when not injured in this new TFC system. Hopefully he does well elsewhere.
Whether this turns out to be the smart or not is all down to the guy who robo-called me this week about Champions League tickets, designated player Danny Koevermans. I guess the assumption here is that finding a way to use both Gordon and Koevermans on the pitch at the same time from a tactical perspective was not what Aron Winter wanted to do and that Gordon could be sacrificed in order to put together a deal to bring in a different style of striker like Ryan Johnson (more on him in a bit). As well if the assumption that Gordon was going to be a backup for Koevermans then asking if paying a backup a wage of over $96,000 would definitely be looked upon as an expensive luxury. And sending Alan back to California probably scores TFC some points with players (either players here or elsewhere) on the reputation front considering that there have been rumblings for a while now that he wanted to move back home to the state where he played his entire career until this season.
The sad reality that most TFC supporters had already probably come to terms with was that the relationship between Nana Attakora and Toronto FC was beyond repair long ago. Nana was too professional and too good a guy to air his dirty laundry in public while he was here so it will probably take some time for the true story about what happened between him and TFC to come out. Whether it was a matter of not coming to terms on a contract renewal, whether Nana wanted to test the market elsewhere as a free agent at the end of the year, whether Winter disliked him and/or his game, or even if you think Nana regressed this year in any case this move was in the cards for a while. I for one think that San Jose, if they can re-sign him as his contract (worth a paltry $45,000 expires at the end of this season) expires at the end of the season will be getting a quality young MLS defender with upside, especially since he is still only 22 years of age. And Frank Yallop acquiring him probably means that the Earthquakes will take a run at offering him a long term contract considering that his new coach already knows him. Good luck in California Nana.
The assumption here is that Johnson will slot into the TFC front line and play on the wing giving TFC a different kind of presence up top that an Alan Gordon or an Javier Martina cannot. Another assumption is that Johnson might be real enthusiastic coming to Toronto considering that he was far down the Quakes depth chart at striker behind Golden Boot holder Chris Wondolowski and the loathed (at least in Toronto) Steven Lenhart. He is a Jamaican International and he definitely might feel right at home in Toronto. Hopefully he can make some time to check out Caribana in a couple of weeks and get a feel for the scale of the expat Jamaican community he is joining here. Again, like Alan Gordon, this deal all comes down to Koevermans and how well Johnson fits into the new three man setup for TFC. Martina and Soolsma are definitely going to be riding the pines now and based on their overall performances so far this season that in and of itself might be a good thing. His wage by MLS standards is reasonable at just a bit over $131,000, and historically he has proven to be more durable and less injury prone than Gordon has been. What this means for Maicon Santos and his playing time is definitely going to be interesting as well as both players might be fighting for to play the same role.
This deal was a real surprise considering that TFC got him for the proverbial bag of soccer balls, the aforementioned “allocation” and that real popular commodity in trades called “future considerations”. Its interesting as well how TFC received allocation space in the Johnson deal which was likely flipped to Vancouver for Dunfield. I like this deal for a few reasons. Dunfield is Canadian and he is the kind of hard working lunch pail type of player that a lot of Toronto FC fans are going to love. He works his tail off and by all accounts in Vancouver he was a great teammate and citizen in the community. He is also on a dirt cheap deal. He is only making $65,000 this season so TFC gets an upgrade arguably from Peterson and get that upgrade for about $80,000 less! Dunfield was one of the players Vancouver signed last year when they were still playing in NASL getting ready for MLS. Dunfield was given a three year deal (two years plus an option) that saw him get a big chunk of change in year one when it did not impact the MLS salary cap and years two and three were at the relatively low sum of $65,000. And if his presence here turns the heat up on the rivalry developing between Toronto and Vancouver then all the better.
International Roster Slot
San Jose gave TFC an international roster slot that runs in length from now until the end of next season as part of the Johnson deal. TFC needs this slot if the plan is to sign an international centre back to fill the gaping hole that still exists at the position. Once all the analysis is done on these deals and we look back on if this was a good day or not for Toronto FC we need to make sure that whoever fills this slot is included in the calculation.
Going into this transfer window Winter and company promised change and change has definitely begun. Going out is a quality albeit injury prone striker, a young raw defender who had no future with the club, and one of the last Mo Johnston contractual “mistakes” that needed to be dealt with. Coming the other way is salary cap space of almost $100,000, an international roster slot that can be used to sign another player from outside MLS, a striker in need of a fresh start and a Canadian midfielder who has already made himself very familiar with the supporters section of BMO Field when he jumped into the stands after scoring a cracker of a goal in the Canada vs Ecuador game earlier this spring.
Today was the first of many more interesting days to come ahead of the next match next week versus FC Dallas.