Who's better than any lousy 4th overall pick?
With the MLS SuperDraft getting closer and closer, there's all sorts of theories, predictions, mock drafts, rumours and reports out there about what Toronto FC might do on Thursday. Projected 4th picks vary, but most of the articles say that TFC will be keeping their two first round picks rather than trading them, as 'confirmed' in interviews by both Aron Winter and Paul Mariner recently (because they'd never not tell the whole truth about their plans when they're trying to outfox 18 other clubs right?)
The one dissenting article in that respect is from Canadian Soccer News, who vaguely report on 'noise' that TFC is likely to move down from number 4 in the draft if there's a team out there willing to slip some allocation money TFC's way to swap picks. To me, this is the one that really makes sense, and fits in with the lack of news on the player acqusition front since the January transfer window opened up.
There's been talk of Krzysztof Krol coming to Toronto, and Luke Wileman reporting a deal is done to bring in Chilean defender Miguel Aceval, which hasn't been confirmed by the club. Also despite an Ives Galarcep tweet that the Joao Plata deal is finalised, that deal, as well as one for Richard Eckersley, was described at the CCL kickoff breakfast thing as '99% done' by Aron Winter. So why all the reluctance? Surely the announcement of new signings, or especially the re-signing of Plata, would be just the thing to boost enthusiasm and CCL ticket sales.
The financial side of pretty much everything in MLS is always kept very close to the chest of clubs and the league, so we'll probably never really know how close to the salary cap TFC is and how much allocation funny money they might get from a club looking to move up to snag a specific draftee. However it's fairly common wisdom that things are tight and TFC doesn't have that much money to be able to improve the squad.
While that might suggest that TFC will be going after all the salary cap dodging Generation Adidas contracts it can get, I think instead the CSN scenario is more likely, and a trade for allocation is the push needed for all the trade dominoes to finally fall and be confirmed. It's a thought I've had for a while and a tweet from Joao Plata today just increased that feeling. It was in Spanish but basically said he's in Quito for a few days before his trip to Canada. Now there is of course plenty of potential reasons for this, but I'll go with the most obvious one, he's here to sign his contract and have to try and spanglish his way through a press conference.
Now I may well be going down the 2+2=5 line here, but my theory is that the difference between the Plata and Eckersley deals being 99% done and 100% done and the Aceval deal being announced is that little bit of allocation money needed to fit them all under the cap. That contracts have already been negotiated and agreed upon, but can't be officially signed and announced until all TFC's math adds up properly. That they probably have a deal lined up, but can't announce until the draft is actually happening. That on Friday, after the draft is over and everyone's back in Toronto, right on the day CCL quarter final tickets go on sale to the non season ticket holding general public, we'll have a big press conference with anywhere between 1 and 3 new or re-signed players.
It's all very much a guess, I don't have inside info, or sources either named or unnamed, but if I'm going to join in the predicting of who TFC will end up with from that number 4 pick, I'll say Joao Plata.