Toronto FC is the type of club that MLS would love to be successful. They have a loyal and dedicated fan base, Toronto is a growing soccer market that hosted the 2008 All Star Game, and the team has a good core of players almost made a playoff run last year. Despite all this, the club’s offseason has been an absolute debacle to date. And with today’s Dwayne De Rosario news, a bad offseason could be turning even worse.
As an update, MLS 2010 Best XI player Dwayne De Rosario was caught on camera practicing with Scottish club Celtic this morning. De Rosario is under contract and Toronto FC today released a statement saying he has not been given permission to train with any club. Celtic management is praising his training and it looks like they could offer a deal in the approaching transfer window (although all transfer rumors must be taken with a grain of salt).
While I am sure the rest of this story will be revealed in the coming days, it is a damning indication of the current chaos of the Toronto front office. If the details of the story are true and the club’s best player went for a tryout without their knowledge, it is a huge breach of contract by the player but also stunning the club had no idea where he was or what he was doing. Clubs should not have ankle bracelets on their players, but someone somewhere with connections in the organization should have heard something before now. Jurgen Klinsmann is incredibly connected, someone must have dropped him a line at some point!
Which leads to my second scenario – the club has known what is happening and wanted to keep it a secret. If that’s the case, then misleading fans by denying any knowledge of the training would be a huge blunder. As I said, this is speculation based on the facts as have been reported.
But none of this is surprising after the offseason in Toronto, which has to leave TFC fans frustrated and confused.The team is the only one in MLS that does not have a head coach and general manager after last season’s firings, and the lack of direction is showing. Hiring Klinsmann was supposed to provide credibility to the front office, but there have not been any visible signs of his impact on the organization. Earlier this month Klinsmann said the team would be “clearing up” the GM and head coach situation before Christmas. Here’s hoping they are negotiating with two great surprise picks after this delay. It’s not like fan-management relations are at an all-time high.
On the field this team has had one focus – clearing cap space. While this is not a terrible goal in general, the direction is has taken the club is not a good one. So far this offseason, TFC has released or declined the options on eight players, traded one (Joseph Nane) to Colorado, and had one (O’Brian White) taken by Vancouver in the expansion draft. In player acquisitions, they have gotten one player – Nathan Sturgis. So while the team has gotten less expensive, the depth has been drastically hit.
So where does this leave Dwayne De Rosario? He is the team’s second DP, so if he is transferred to Celtic the club frees up a decent amount of money and a second DP space. This would allow them to begin making a complete overhaul of the roster with a goal of using the Superdraft and a key DP-signing or two to make this club a competitor in the weaker Eastern Conference. But again it goes back to management – what has the front office done to give fans confidence in the team? It will be interesting to see what TFC looks like in March 2011.