Could Toronto FC be in position to bring in another World Cup calibre player before the start of the MLS season? They might just be based on some comments from Tim Leiweke who was a guest speaker at Kraft on Thursday. According to one TFC fan who heard him speak there is a very good player who is interested in coming to play for TFC this spring on loan in hopes of boosting their chances of making a World Cup squad.
Leiweikie was a guest speaker today Said a top 10 goalie on a team fighting relegation wants to come on loan so he can make the WC #TFC— Dino. M (@DowntownDino) February 6, 2014
There are very few details at this point in time beyond that tweet and speculation. With so many teams currently in relegation races it is almost impossible to narrow down the list of names to figure out who it could be. Assuming that TFC would again be using their connections in England and that the keeper would not currently be starting the options do become much more limited.
There is Ben Foster at West Brom but he is still fighting for their starting role and has been out of the England picture for the most part in recent years. He did earn one cap in 2013 but his chances of making the World Cup squad seem slim even if he were to be playing on a regular basis.
Another English option that might make even more sense is Jack Butland. According to Sky Sports he is open to going out on loan to give his chances of making the World Cup squad a much needed boost. The report mentions going to teams in the Championship and nothing about MLS but it would fit with what Leiweke was saying other than the fact that Butland is not a top 10 keeper.
Butland made the Euro 2012 squad for England and could still steal one of the two spots on the World Cup team behind Joe Hart if he is playing well. With no one really having staked a claim to that spot Butland, a promising 20-year-old, would have to beat out the likes of Foster, John Ruddy, Fraser Forster, and Robert Green for one of those final two spots. It is possible that Butland could make the team if he is on form but that is not going to happen if he continues to ride the bench at Stoke.
Butland seems to be the option that best fits the description that Leiweke offered with Foster a close second in terms of keepers in the Premier League. Another name that has drawn some speculation is that of Julio Cesar of Queens Park Rangers even though he does not fit the description of playing for a relegation threatened team. Instead he is riding the bench for a QPR team that is right in the middle of a promotion battle and are closing in on a return to the Premier League. He has been limited to just one appearance in the League Cup having lost the starting job to Robert Green but Cesar could still wind up making Brazil's squad if he can find playing time in the coming months to prove that he still has what it takes to back stop a World Cup contender at 34.
There are probably a number of other names that could be speculated about but at this point that is all we are able to do. It is purely speculation based on a comment from Tim Leiweke who seems to insist on always having a little carrot to dangle in front of fans any time he makes a public appearance.
The whole idea of bringing in a keeper on a short term loan also raises another set of questions about whether or not such a move would be worthwhile. It is impossible to argue that someone like Butland would not be a massive upgrade over Joe Bendik but would it be worth disrupting your number one for a few months when it would likely still be Bendik that the team relies on down the stretch? A few extra points in March, April, and May would be nice but what happens when you have to go back to Bendik when your loan keeper leave? Is that a risk that is worth taking or would TFC be better off putting their faith in Bendik as the number one and rolling with him all season?
If the team were to bring in on a keeper on loan it would also mean having to clear up an international slot on the roster. They are currently all in use but one could open up depending on how they manage to resolve the situation with Matias Laba.
There are certainly too many questions at this point to make this something worth getting excited about but in the meantime we can certainly speculate about who Big Tim might be referring to.