Will it be Baptiste or Dickov? – Rumour Mill swirls with news of strikers potentially on the way to BMO Field
Since the inception of the club, Toronto FC has struggled to find an answer to the scoring woes the club has faced for most of its history. And the list of failed strikers in Toronto has been a long one. The fact that many of them have gone on to success elsewhere is another story for another day. But here we are again, well into the club’s fourth campaign and goals are still hard to come by.
Dwayne De Rosario has carried the goal scoring load on his back to this point, but in my eyes you are almost wasting what DeRo can bring to the team by playing him in an out and out striker role. In his career DeRo has always been a player that likes to roam in behind the striker/strikers and either score or create goals for others. Thank god he is scoring at the pace he is but I can’t help thinking that TFC is losing out on DeRo’s ability to create goals for others as well. Until we get more help up top I do not think that Preki has much choice but to do what he is doing.
Strikers are often only as good as their service. Chad Barrett for example could have been the greatest striker on Earth last Saturday night, but if he is going to get only one or two touches in a half of football then it is hard to expect anything from him or any striker.
This leads to the rumour mill swirling around two strikers that may be on the way to BMO Field.
Trinidadian International and Joe Public FC striker Kerry Baptiste is set to trial with TFC following the completion of the Caribbean Club Championship later this month. In a local news paper he was quoted as saying: “…Yes, I have been invited to go up to Toronto…They have expressed an interest having me train at the club and possibly they can offer me a deal… Joe Public is responsible for where I am right now and I played some of the best football of my career as a member of the Joe Public club. If it means they must benefit from any deal that I sign outside, then I’m happy about that.”
Baptiste has also been invited by English side Ipswich Town for a trial during their pre-season as well. So there is no guarantee he will sign with TFC. He has torn up his domestic league this past season scoring just under 30 goals. He is not a large player by any means and by all accounts he is a pacey player with good dribbling skills and a scoring touch around the net. It also sounds like from the newspaper interview that there might even be a transfer fee of some sort to Joe Public that would need to be worked out in order to obtain his services. I do not know if TFC has a discovery claim on him or not.
And of course we have Paul Dickov, currently playing out the string with English League 1 club Leeds United. The former Scotland International and Manchester City star has long been rumoured to be coming here and his contract ends quite soon. Here is a video from TFC TV from the pre season to confirm how the club feels about Paul. It is the only time in the history of the club I can think of where a triallist not signed by TFC was publicly interviewed by the club’s PR arm.
Now I recently joined a Leeds United fan message board in order to ask the Leeds fans themselves what they thought of Dickov. In most cases they tell me that Paul is 100% gone at the end of their season, which takes place this weekend. Leeds plays Bristol Rovers, needing a win to guarantee promotion to the Championship next season.
Dickov has hardly played for Leeds since his signing during the winter. Here is what one Leeds fan told me via email about Paul and his time there:
“…He’s had cameo sub appearances in 2 or 3 appearances, probably giving him 40 minutes of football – As such I won’t judge him on that. He has played one full game, though, against Millwall. On a very bad night for Leeds, Dickov was the best Leeds United player, being able to show experience and a cool head to keep calm whilst Millwall were running the show. He had a bit of creativity, a good first touch, and overall a generally sound game. However, as there was no service, his finishing wasn’t tested, and he had to cut deep a lot…”
So there you have it. Two potential strikers on the way. We may end up with one, both or neither of them. How much cap and allocation dollars TFC has to play with here certainly will come into consideration.
Both players are relatively quick, small in stature and are noted as having good finishing skills. Both players rely upon service to succeed. However Baptiste has not played significant minutes at a level approaching MLS and Dickov is 37 years old with a lot of mileage on the odometer. I can see players like these two scoring some goals for TFC if DeRo moves back in behind them and gives them some service and room to manoeuvre. But both players come with significant question marks.
In any case I would not hold your breath TFC fans for a DP striker this season. The club can’t afford it under the salary cap. Plain and simple. It’ll most likely be one of these guys, or maybe both if Mo can work the money out, that TFC will have to rely upon to score goals. Only time will tell if this is the right path to take.