The golden goose seems to be tarnished today.
Many TFC supporters couldn’t believe their eyes time and time again this past year when the newest man responsible for turning this club around seemed to be doing just that. For Tim Bezbatchenko it started with unbelievable top notch signings in Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley signings that were dreams coming true to followers. Next came some brilliant in-season moves. Turning players that failed to contribute in Gale Agbossoumonde and Alvaro Rey into Luke Moore and Dominic Oduro who were able to give something tangible to this team. Selling high on Issey Nakajima-Farran to bring in the steady if unspectacular Collen Warner was another feather in Bez’s cap. Bez could do no wrong, it seemed like everything he touched turned out perfectly for the Reds, until today.
The day before two new clubs are set to pluck the best of the rest off of the established clubs in the league the man who seemed to be able to do no wrong struck out again and again. What TFC has lacked year in and year out has been a rock solid centreback partnership. Two of the best, proven, MLS elite centrebacks were available and the Reds walked away empty handed. Aurelien Collin and Nat Borchers were both dealt for allocation money. Another young promising centreback in Amobi Okugo was also dealt to Orlando for allocation money. Okugo has all the tools to be a long-time starter in the league or potentially be sold for a profit. With age on his side he could also succeed Steven Caldwell as the leader at the back.
In the case of Borchers, reports were that there were three clubs, one being TFC that submitted identical offers to Real Salt Lake. RSL did the noble thing in letting a long serving member of the club decide where he wanted to go, he chose Portland. The new kids on the MLS block, Orlando City SC, landed Collin who is known to want a new deal that is close to a Designated Player level.
Instead of trying to sweeten their offer TFC was foolishly outbid for both players. If the deals were equal TFC had what it took to get the deal done and they just didn’t. TFC will have three first round picks in the next MLS Superdraft, where their success rate is rather poor. Even when TFC have hit on a young prospect in the draft they are rarely on the team for more than two full seasons before they are dealt. Knowing that, is a pick not worth having a pairing of Steven Caldwell and Borchers or Collin?
The easy out is to look at the salary of both Collin and Borchers and ask if it is wise to spend so much when Caldwell is already on the books at the position. The answer is yes. The sale of Jermain Defoe is the worst kept secret in the league. Once January hits he is gone and TFC will have his cap room and a big novelty cheque of allocation money from the sale. Both could be used to pay down the cap hit on either player. News also broke yesterday that Vancouver will be sending some more money to TFC to complete the Matias Laba saga. More money that could’ve been used to ease the cap hit of one of these stud defenders.
Strike one, Collin. Strike two, Borchers. Strike three, Okugo. Strike four....Mark Bloom.
The whiffs didn’t end with missed trades yesterday. Protecting Kyle Bekker instead of Mark Bloom was such a mistake that there has to be some kind of backroom handshake deal to have happened. Bloom could be one of the best finds by any TFC manager and he will without a doubt be selected by his hometown Orlando or New York in the expansion draft. Bloom’s solid play, minimum salary and domestic status make him a no brainer selection for either expansion club. Bekker is on more money, hasn’t played to expectations and would be an international for either team.
Something that started out so promising has taken a hard u-turn in the last twenty four hours. Here’s hoping that there are bigger and better things to come but it’s starting to feel like the same old TFC we’ve come to know over the last eight years.