Home MLS Toronto FC Toronto FC’s goalkeeping situation isn’t clear for 2012 (WITH VIDEO)

Toronto FC’s goalkeeping situation isn’t clear for 2012 (WITH VIDEO)

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For most of the players on the Toronto FC roster ,there is a lot of uncertainty regarding their futures with the club.

The biggest area of concern for the TFC is the backline, but Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter will be looking to upgrade his club in every area of the pitch. Winter will hold one-on-one meetings with players in the coming days to evaluate his team and potentially make decisions regarding certain players being let go or coming back next year.

Perhaps the hardest decision for him will be surrounding the goalkeeping tandem of Stefan Frei and Milos Kocic. Frei started the season as the bona fide No. 1, but after suffering a midseason injury, Kocic came in and played very well to hold onto the starting job until the end of the year.

Each has demonstrated that they can play everyday at a high level leaving Winter and the rest of the coaching staff to make a potentially very difficult decision in the offseason — to bring both back or make a move.

“It is nice you have to think always and discuss with the other coaches ‘OK how are we going to play, which player are we going to use, how is the opponent going to play’,” said Winter at Toronto FC’s season-ending press conference on Monday.

“Because in the beginning when we started we didn’t have a choice (who) to let play, not only the goalkeeper but for each position. (It) was easy because our roster was not big enough. And now we’re going to have those discussions, is good because they’re two very good goalkeepers.”

Stefan Frei makes a save on the Whitecaps' Camilo. PHOTO: PAUL GiAMOU/CANADA SOCCER
Stefan Frei makes a save on the Whitecaps’ Camilo. PHOTO: PAUL GiAMOU/CANADA SOCCER

Both ‘keepers are good friends on and off the field and are roommates on road trips as well. They have developed a great relationship the past two seasons and have pushed each other in practice and supported whoever plays in goal. Frei didn’t end his season as well as he had hoped, but has demonstrated his quality last season and before his injury this year. For Kocic, his value couldn’t be higher than it is right now and could be moved to bring in another player to improve the club.

So is there room for both on the team?

“Yeah, that’s definitely a possibility,” said Frei about the only one of them returning next year. “Good thing if you look at it that in a personal way then you’re saying you have two starters here, that for us personally is a good thing too. If we’re both starters then one of us will not be here anymore then hopefully we’ll start somewhere else.”

“So if you’re looking at it in a selfish way, that’s good. That’s what I mean – it all works out. If we push each other in practice and make each other better it’s good for the team but it also good for us as individuals because in the end only one can play here, but if we can raise our skills – he can raise mine and I can raise his – then at some point we’ll both be starting wherever that may be.”

Kocic, seated beside his teammate, added to Frei’s comment, but the way it was worded seem to imply that one will not be back this season. It may not have come out the right way, but it has certainly increased speculation about TFC’s future between the posts.

“I just want to add one thing, whoever stays and whoever comes as the new goalkeeper I know we’re going to keep the same work,” said Kocic. “And we’re going to introduce the new person, I know Stefan probably agrees with that, whoever stays is going to bring the same work ethics to the group and try to keep the same level and make sure we have a good season as a group, as goalkeepers and hopefully the team has a very successful season.”

Both Frei and Kocic are sincere that they could play together next season but it’s clear that both are ready to take over the starting job. If they do stay then there could be endless talk of goalkeeper controversy and potentially cause distractions within the clubhouse. There are teams in MLS that are in the market for a ‘keeper and could be inquiring the availability of either in the days ahead. Whatever Winter decides it will be a long and interesting offseason before all the questions are answered and team reconvenes for training camp in February.

I was able to catch up with both Frei and Kocic after their end of season press conference and asked about their thoughts on the season and futures with the club as well as the possibility of one day playing in Europe. Their interviews are embedded below.

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