Toronto Sun writer Kurt Larson spent last week down at the MLS Cup in Kansas City and taking advantage of the access that gave him. Over the weekend he published a pair of articles that caught the interest of Toronto FC fans who are currently sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for news from the club.
With the MLS rosters being unfrozen on Monday afternoon a flurry of activity is unlikely but once the team is able to make trades it will likely increase the impatience among fans who are just looking for some good news in the form of actual additions rather than rumours and speculation.
The first nugget that Larson dropped over the weekend was getting TFC's GM on the record about a certain boy from Scarborough for the first time. The club's interest in bringing back Dwayne De Rosario is not breaking news by any means but up until this point it was just speculation based on sources. There is no deal in place to bring DeRo back at this point but it is now clear that the door is open for a return if both sides can come to an agreement on a deal that works for everyone involved.
If Toronto wanted to lock up DeRo without him first being exposed to the Re-Entry draft they would have to work out a deal with D.C. United in the coming days for the player's rights. Once that deal is in place they would be able to negotiate with the midfielder and should they manage to agree a new deal he would be able to sign without having to go through the Re-Entry procedure and be exposed to other clubs who could potentially be interested in acquiring the proven MLS goal scorer.
Bringing back the club's all-time leading scorer was not the only potential return that Bezbatchenko discussed in the Sun interview. In the full article from the conversation with Larson, Bez gets into the players who had their options declined by the club recently.
Larson makes it quite clear that of the seven players who are either out of contract with the club or had their options declined there are only two who might be back for the 2014 season. Michael Thomas, Darel Russell, Justin Braun, Stefan Frei, and Danny Koevermans have all played their last game for the club while the door remains open for Robert Earnshaw and Bobby Convey to return.
The club is negotiating with both Earnshaw and Convey to bring them back at a rate that reflects their production and contributions. That seems to be the key thing for Bezbatchenko who wants to maximize the value that the team is getting for players. It remains to be seen of either or both players accept a reduce rate of pay to come back to Toronto but for now it seems possible.
The article touches on Richard Eckersley as well. The right-back remains under contract but will not be back with Toronto next season. It seems the club is looking to find a new home for the Englishman within MLS and that he would potentially be packaged in a trade to another club rather than being bought out. It is unlikely that another MLS team would be interested in Eckersley at his current contract number but they may have a better chance of convincing him to take a sizeable pay cut down to the rate of an ordinary fullback than TFC have.
Bezbatchenko makes it pretty clear that TFC have already been working on building the meat and bones of the roster. At least from his side of things it has not all been focused on trying to chase down big name DPs as he is also working to bring in some proven MLS veterans to strengthen the core of the team. He seems to have an idea of who he wants and now it is just a matter of getting the deals done to bring them in.
The interview with Larson shows Bezbatchenko in a very good light. He seems to have come into his new role with a good sense of what this team needs to win in MLS, has formulated a plan to get those pieces, and is now trying to put that plan in motion. He is saying the right things going into potentially the two most important months that TFC have faced in their history. If they do not get things right in this transfer window it is hard to say just what will happen to the club moving forward with the interest of many fans hanging by a thread.
Now Bezbatchenko is not the first suit to come to BMO Field and talk a good game. Fans have seen a number of men come and go without their well articulated plans ever bringing success to the club. The real test will be how much of his plan he can deliver. Having the right idea is the easiest part of getting the job done.
Hopefully for the sake of TFC fans the new GM can do more than just talk a good game and can finally deliver on those words. After all, if there is one thing sports fans in Toronto have had enough of it is idle talk.