Home MLS Toronto FC Toronto FC: A poor team can’t afford to mortgage the one thing it has — the future

Toronto FC: A poor team can’t afford to mortgage the one thing it has — the future


Clearly, it’s a deal made to make way for a major move to come. And the trading of 24-year-old Luis Silva to D.C. United in exchange for allocation money will only further fuel speculation that Toronto FC is clearing the decks to make way for Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan. (Or, if that falls through, another marketable Designated-Player star)

When Tim Leiweke was hired as the new president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the man who was key in bringing David Beckham and Robbie Keane to the Los Angeles Galaxy said he had carte blanche from the board to spend what was needed to bring in a high-profile Designated Player.

“If we find the right guy, they’re all in,” he pledged back then. (CLICK HERE)

But, for a team that is currently 13 points out of the playoffs, is shedding a hopeful young prospect the right thing to do? Why bring in aging players for a playoff push that, if successful, would be considered nothing short of miraculous?

Aren’t young players the foundation of building teams that will be competitive in the future? Yes, Silva’s production has slipped — five goals last season, none this year, and, as the games went on this season more hope was placed on Jonathan Osorio as an attacking mid than Silva.

Still, what purpose does a high-profile DP serve to a team that’s time zones away from the playoff chase? Shouldn’t the philosophy for a struggling team be to play the kids and give them their baptisms of fire?

Let’s look at the Galaxy as an example. When Beckham arrived in 2007, he couldn’t transform a bad team into a playoff contender. Same in 2008, when the Galaxy surrendered a whopping 62 goals in 30 games. What Beckham did was add some legitimacy to MLS — and, yes, the creation of the DP rule paved the way for the likes of Torsten Frings, Thierry Henry and Keane to join the league. But, it took the Galaxy until 2009 to become competitive, which was year three of Beckham’s stay.

Why? Because Beckham had preciously little around him. You could make an argument that the addition of centre back Omar Gonzalez in the draft, and the trade that brought fullback Todd Dunivant to Los Angeles contributed more to L.A.’s move from outhouse to penthouse than any DP signing. It was when the supporting cast was in place, under the tutelage of coach Bruce Arena, that the Galaxy finally turned the corner.

And that’s the rub. Bring a DP into what is, frankly, a poor Toronto team, and you won’t have instant improvement. The base is better than it was last year, but still is nowhere near MLS playoff standard. Now, yet another first-round draft pick is traded for allocation. (Sam Cronin, anyone?)

What TFC needs is a legacy player. A thirtysomething DP can only be useful for a short time. And, when he’s gone, what’s left? If TFC was close to being a contender, then an older DP who can make immediate impact makes sense. But, a thirtysomething DP can never be a foundational player; he can be the cherry-on-top player, the guy who turns a good team into a great team. But for a poor franchise, acquiring an aging star, if it means jettisoning prospects, is a risky move indeed.

What do bad teams have to sell to their fans? The future. Why mortgage it?

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  1. Adam

    July 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    You do realize TFC is planning to bring in 3-4 players in the transfer window. Some of those names are younger players than Silva and have a better pedigree. It’s suits the structure of your article to say Silva’s trade is to make room for Forlan and therefore we are mortgaging the future for immediate results, however, that’s simply not the case and it’s a bit misleading.

    Also, the comparison to the beginning of the Beckham era is a bit….dated. Since then, we have up to 4 DPs, two normal DPs, a Young DP, and now a league owned DP (Or major prospect). The LA Galaxy reference, while correct that the supporting cast is very important, included 2 other DPs in Donovan and Keane during their cup wins in 2011 and 2012.


  2. Soccerpro

    July 10, 2013 at 12:42 am

    While I liked Silva, it is fair to say he’s 24 and not exactly a “prospect” anymore.
    All the same, TFC are gambling big time with the transfer market strategy.


  3. JB

    July 9, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    This isn’t hockey, and whose to say that this move isn’t for Urutti? The assumption is its for Forlan, but what if its for Forlan and a young player or two of the Urutti pedigree? And in MLS its not uncommon for a team to turn themselves around in a year.
    Honestly this is a wait and see type move, if they bring in Forlan only, its a short sighted move. But if its the other way around, then I’m on the side of its being a great move. Let’s wait and see.


    • Steven Sandor

      July 9, 2013 at 9:15 pm

      I absolutely agree that teams can turn themselves around quickly. And that’s usually done by improving the supporting cast (why I used Beckham and the Galaxy as the example… standings inidicate that Gonzalez/Franklin/Dunivant had more of an impact on Galaxy turnaround than DPs)


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