A very happy birthday to Issey Nakajima-Farran as he gets to celebrate by being traded from Toronto FC to the Montreal Impact. Along with the Canadian international TFC are sending allocation money to the Impact in exchange for Collen Warner.
The deal will certainly raise a few eyebrows among TFC supporters who have been quickly won over by the consistent play of Nakajima-Farran since he signed for the club. During his short stint with the club the Canadian winger was the team's best wide midfielder on a regular basis and seemed to have played his way up the depth chart to the point that he was competing with Alvaro Rey and Jackson for starting minutes on the flank.
It seems like a clear win for the Impact who get a 30-year-old player who is on good form and should provide a boost to their attack as well as getting allocation money while only given up a player who is probably just a depth midfielder at this point in his career.
For Toronto, the deal nets them a player who fits a major need as Warner will provide some extra toughness and depth in the middle of the park to help deal with the absence of Michael Bradley during the World Cup and the injury to Jeremy Hall. He should be good enough to compete with Bekker for minutes but more importantly it gives the team a third option in the middle of the park outside of Bekker and Jonathan Osorio which will be key in the busy months ahead.
We got a brief scouting report on the newest TFC player from Sofiane Benzaza who runs Mount Royal Soccer:
A serviceable center midfielder, Warner joined the Impact during the 2012 MLS Expansion Draft. A key player under Jesse Marsch, he played alongside Patrice Bernier during the club's expansion year. Under Marco Schallibaum, he was not considered as a starter and saw his playing time diminish.
An offensive midfielder in College, Warner quickly became a box-to-box midfielder managing defensive duties while distributing the ball properly. He likes to go forward but is mostly efficient when he stays back.
Toronto FC received an excellent player to add to its depth, who can come off the bench and help the club immediately. As a starter, Warner needs to be given a specific role and specific assignments. He is jack of all trade but master of none and I don't say this in a bad way.
So it sounds like Warner is going to be the kind of player that you need to do well in MLS. A guy who can provide depth and play minutes when you need him to. Sofiane's comments also line up quite well with what Tim Bezbatchenko had to offer in the official release from Toronto FC:
"We felt the need to acquire an experienced MLS central midfielder like Collen Warner was necessary as we approach the break, coupled with the loss of Michael to the U.S. National team," said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "Collen provides a different look in the midfield for us and to be successful in this League you need to be multidimensional. Collen is someone we strongly admire as a player and who believe can help us achieve our goals. We are pleased to welcome Collen to Toronto FC and expect him to fit in well with our group. We'd also like to thank Issey for all of his contributions to our club and wish him well in Montreal."
It is a deal that makes sense despite it seeming like the Impact come out of it as the winner. Nakajima-Farran was playing some of the best soccer of his career and was probably due for a return to normal in the coming weeks at which point he would have gone back to being depth behind Jackson and Rey. The team have confidence that Lovitz can help provide that depth so that makes one of the wingers expendable. TFC move out a depth player to get depth in another position.
The problem with the deal is that TFC seem to have given up the better player and sent money with him and now they are counting on a young, unproven player like Lovitz to fill a fairly large role in the squad moving forward. If this move is made in isolation and nothing else follows in the coming days it will go down as quite a puzzling trade.
For many fans this deal may be the first time that they are really questioning just what Tim Bezbatchenko and co are doing. Hopefully there is more to come.