It was a refreshing surprise. “Trader Mo” holding onto his three first round picks instead of wheeling and dealing them for either a higher pick or established MLS talent. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Certainly we would all like to see post –season play at BMO Field, but this is still a young club trying to find their identity. In only two years the fans have certainly established a unique identity and the best atmosphere in all of MLS and a roar that makes the 20,000 seat stadium feel like double the size.
As Mo Johnston becomes more experienced as a MLS General Manager has patience become an asset? I would like to think so. With holding on to the draft picks Johnston has managed to create competition for the starting eleven. When everyone was healthy or not on international duty the starting eleven for TFC was really no surprise last year. Second overall pick Wake Forest midfielder Sam Cronin will push for a starting position or at the very least give John Carver some options of where to play Dwayne De Rosario. Cronin was a 2008 Mac Herman Award Finalist and scored 10 goals in 2008. O’Brian White may have gone number one if it were not for knee surgery. The fourth overall pick, 2007 Mac Herman Award winner and University of Connecticut product will thrive playing in his hometown. He will provide a spark off the bench and earn some valuable experience in a starting role when players are injured or playing for their country.
Defense was a major issue with Toronto FC last season especially late in the game. Three promising story lines have emerged since the draft when it comes to defending. Todd Dunivant is ready to return to the lineup and I hear his vocals on Guitar Hero are spot on. He could play a role on the back line or in midfield and Carver will now have the option to possibly move Jim Brennan into midfield where he played most of his career before moving to TFC. In goal backup keeper Brian Edwards could be moved after drafting Swiss born Stefen Frei. Many were surprised Frei, who was named combine MVP, was still around as the 13th overall pick. He may even challenge Greg Sutton for the starting role. Some fans and members of the media were disappointed that Johnston did not make any draft day moves, but I for one am not one of them. Instead, I think he deserves credit for continuing to build this young team. It’s a strong blend of proven talent mixed in with promising young pics. Trading away draft picks for instant success does not always work…Mo just has to walk down the hall at MLSE to find that one out.
Lee Godfrey brings an extensive amount of soccer broadcast experience to GolTV where he is the host of the station’s original Canadian news program Extra Time.