When last I posted, I talked about this last week being the calm before the storm, no games to play, and very little transfer activity, and then I went away for a couple of days, and well, that was quite the storm. if you're interested enough to click here and read this, then by now you likely know the big moves that were made, Toronto FC trading Alan Gordon, Jacob Peterson and Nana Attakora to San Jose for winger Ryan Johnson, as well as getting Terry Dunfield from Vancouver and then sending Tony Tchani to Columbus (New York, to Toronto and then to Columbus, poor guy) for Andy Iro and Leandre Griffit, with those delightful MLS quirks, allocation money and international roster spots flying in all directions as well.
Add in Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans, and with Aron Winter talking about further moves being made, and (depending on fitness, Koevermans was interviewed on TFC TV and gave the impression he was just starting to train again, so I doubt he'll be starting) we could potentially have over half the starting eleven be new players on Wednesday against FC Dallas. So will it be an improvement, and how are all these guys going to fit into the team? I'll say yes, eventually, to the first question, all these moves are a positive step, and I'll get into the second question in another post coming later today. First off though, after the jump I'll look at what we've lost, offer some fond farewells and have a bit of a concerned rant about Aron Winter's man-management skills.
Of the players traded away, the biggest losses from the team so far this season will be Alan Gordon and Tony Tchani, but as I said earlier, you have to give up an asset to get an asset back, and both of them were among the few tradeable assets we had that wouldn't leave another gaping hole in the roster behind them to be filled with another trade. While far from the finished article, Tchani has real potential to improve and become a very good MLS level midfielder, and his Generation Adidas contract which means his salary doesn't count towards the salary cap is very attractive, but with the Dunfield and Frings addditions he was probably our 4th or 5th choice in midfield for the rest of the season and thus expendable, and getting a decent Centre Back in Andy Iro was very much needed and worth the sacrifice.
As for Gordon, he played very well here, and the attack looked a lot more dangerous and on the same page when he was playing. Unfortunately that wasn't often enough as injuries kept him out of the team almost all of the last couple of momths or so. With Koevermans now the clear first choice at Centre Forward, Gordon would have been a depth player even when healthy, and both Maicon Santos and Ryan Johnson can do that and should be more able to fit in on the wings, so the move makes sense. Jacob Peterson also went to San Jose again a good move considering the surplus of midfielders we now have, though if he had been fit over the last couple of months, maybe he could have been tried on the wing where he'd played pretty much his whole career before Winter came along and tried him in midfield.
Nana Attakora is the one who's had the least impact on the pitch so far this season, but his trade is one that really hurts at the emotional level, and could potentially come back to haunt us on the pitch as well. At the emotional level, well he was the last link to the original TFC squad, and after having a very good year last year he seemed to have a solid career ahead of him. Whether he'd stayed at TFC or moved on to bigger and better things, he would have been the homegrown success story, the hometown kid come good who proved that throught all the dysfunction, TFC was having a positive benefit on Canadian soccer. It never got going for him this year, and while a couple of poor games early on, and then injuries have contributed to that, it seemed like there was also a lot of behind the scenes wranging over contract isssues that played a part in this, and that, combined with a couple of other details from these days don't make Aron Winter or TFC look good.
Those other details, well firstly there's a lot of rumour out there that the future considerations going to Vancouver for Terry Dunfield might well end up being Kevin Aleman, one of the brightest prospects in Canadian soccer, and up to a couple of months or so ago, TFC's academy. He was released from the club because he refused to sign a committment to Toronto FC before going off to play for Canada at the under 17 world cup. The last time I despaired about Winter's hard line stance costing the team, I wrote "What if he doesn’t catch on with a bigger club, would you not want one of the top young players in Canada back in your academy? If he ends up signing with another MLS club's academy, especially god help us Vancouver, that would be a huge black eye to the club.", and now it looks like we could be very close to that becoming a reality. The other detail was a parting tweet from Jacob Peterson "Feels nice to be treated like an adult again..almost forgot what that felt like"
This may all be very unfair, maybe San Jose really wanted Attakora and Winter was forced to give him up to make the deal work, but I can't help but think that it's another consequence of Winter's lack of skills at the subtle ego wrangling needed to keep a squad together, and another sign of his lack of adaptation to the level he's at. Coming from Ajax, a very big club with a massive reputation and not that many teams above it in world football, where top players want to play, it would be a lot easier to play the my way or the highway game with them. At TFC though, there are many options at a similar level if the 'my way' is particularly unpleasant, and especially for younger players, there are a lot of better clubs out there that they SHOULD be aspiring to, and TFC should be encouraging those aspirations.
Though details were never confirmed, it seemd the contract renegotiations between TFC and Attakora stalled over the length of the contract rather than the amount. Attakora was wanting a shorter contract, in order to keep his options open for the future. At this stage of his career, I have absolutely no problem with that, sign him for a couple of years , and if he's determined to earn a contract at a bigger club, well he's going to be playing his heart out for those couple of years, so we'll get a benefit there, and if all goes well, Attakora can move on to a bigger club, it's win win. Yes, it would suck if eventually Attakora left with TFC getting no compensation via trade or transfer fee, but that's the reality of being a smaller club, you can't absolutely dictate terms.
Yet management still seems to have a problem with the concept of a player making a success of himself without them getting their piece, and seem to prefer to lose now rather than risk losing further down the line. That's now 4 times this sort of dispute has escalated, and only Adrian Cann has fallen in line (and if you want examples to back up Peterson's tweet about not being treated like an adult, that apology Cann was forced to make in front of the media is exhibit A) Dwayne De Rosario was moved out, Aleman unceremoniously dumped, and now after a lost half-season, Attakora is on his way. It's sad, and especially when combined with Peterson's verdict on how he was treated, a little worrying.