March 27, 2010 48 Hours Shakeup Toronto makes several changes leading up to the opener (from

48 Hours Shakeup Toronto makes several changes leading up to the opener
03/27/2010 08:20 AM By Asif Hossain /

Nick LaBrocca is one of the new additions after a series of changes at Toronto FC. TORONTO -- Several changes have been made at Toronto FC in the last 48 hours.

On Friday alone we saw the signings of midfielder Martin Saric and goalkeeper Jon Conway while Brian Edwards exited from BMO Field.

The addition of Conway assured that backup keeper Edwards had seen his last action with the Reds. The club waived the 2008 2nd round pick from Wake Forest to make room for the 32-year old former New York Red Bulls man that new head coach Preki has favoured to play behind Stefan Frei.

Edwards is young and talented and should find a role somewhere else. But in Toronto as a backup to 2009 Rookie of the Year finalist, Frei, his value was only dropping. Young backup keepers are usually not a major trade commodity in MLS unless they play several games to prove themselves. Edwards wouldn't get that chance in Toronto.

Conway is a proven backup entering his 11th season. Having another league veteran in the dressing room that is familiar with opposition players and match day officials, can have a positive effect on the club in the long run.

Saric, born in Argentina of Croatian descent, played in Slovenia last year. He has survived various trialist cuts during a lengthy preseason spell with Toronto and has fit in well with the team. The 30-year old hard-nosed central midfielder will add some "steel" to the club, said Director of Soccer Mo Johnston. What Toronto lost with the departure of Carl Robinson should be filled by Saric.

On Thursday the club said goodbye to popular fullback Marvell Wynne to acquire rising midfielder Nick LaBrocca and a third round pick from Colorado.

I spoke to Wynne while he was at the airport in Houston, waiting for a connecting flight to Los Angeles where Colorado started their season against Chivas USA (a 1-0 win in Wynne's debut).

Wynne was surprised by the move, but understands the nature of the business and seemed eager to start this new chapter in his life. The athletic fullback loves to integrate himself with his surroundings, which made him a hit with the locals in Toronto. His fun-loving attitude and hard work on the pitch will win him many new admirers in Commerce City.

LaBrocca, 25, enjoyed four seasons in Colorado, becoming a regular squad player in 2008 - the year he led the club in appearances. The New Jersey native, who can kick the ball with both feet, will help settle the midfield, allowing Dwayne De Rosario to go further forward. An advanced De Rosario should help Toronto's attack, which was anemic in preseason going goalless in three matches at the annual Carolina Challenge Cup.

Toronto may still be in the market for a versatile defensive player* that would help cover the starters in the backline.

Offensively, the club is excited about the improvements explosive midfielder Jacob Peterson has been making in recovering from his season ending injury in 2009 with Colorado. He was an integral part of the Rapids' attack last season and should add a major boost to Toronto when he gets up to speed.

Chad Barrett is close to being match fit, which will bolster the striker options for Toronto. The 24-year old has responded well to the new coach and has set a double digit goal scoring target for himself.

Regardless of what happens in the inaugural match of 2010 in Columbus, Preki is likely not finished tinkering with the squad to have the right personnel in place to meet the demands of his system.

In preseason Preki put fitness under a microscope and on occasion the club had full workouts in the morning ahead of games, which showed on some nights. If nothing else, the premium put on being in strong physical condition should help stop those post-75th minute goals that Toronto conceded 16 times last season.

*Editor's Note: that player turned out to be defender Dan Gargan. Toronto announced his signing shortly after 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 27. The 27-year old Philadelphia native was signed in time for the season opener in Columbus.

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