January 15, 2007 Toronto FC feels Beckham impact (from Globe and Mail)

POSTED ON: 15/01/07

Toronto FC feels Beckham impact

Globe and Mail Update

Toronto Toronto FC is already feeling a positive impact of David Beckham's signing with the Los Angeles Galaxy for the upcoming season, but coach Mo Johnston feels no immediate pressure for his team to try to immediately sign a star player of its own.

The Major League Soccer expansion team said Monday that it has sold more than 10,000 season tickets for its first season at BMO Field with about 2,600 of those coming since Thursday's announcement that Beckham would when his contract with Real Madrid expired, he would play for Los Angeles.

Johnston said Beckham's signing is good for the league but he will pick his spots before making a move to sign a designated player that the league allows.

"We don't have to keep up with the Joneses, we'll crawl before we walk," Johnston said Monday at the Air Canada Centre where the team introduced three of its choices from Friday's draft.

The MLS has a salary cap but each team can sign a designated star player, which became known as the Beckham rule even before he was signed.

"We have no desire to go out right now and get a designated player," Johnston said. "We're building a franchise."

He said most of the Canadian players who are playing overseas not yet available. "We'll see who becomes available in the summer and if we can do it we'll do it," he said. "Our time will come for this franchise to go out and buy a big-name player and it won't be this year, it might not be next year," Johnston said.

But eventually he said the time will be right.

Beckham's contract with Real Madrid expires June 30 but indications are from the team that he won't be played any more since he has signed with L.A. That has led to speculation that he might be able to play earlier than expected in the MLS.

MLS commissioner Don Garber though released a statement on Monday denying some reports along this line.

"David Beckham remains a member of the Real Madrid club until his contract expires June 30," the statement said. "Unless otherwise informed, we are looking forward to welcoming David this summer following the end of his contract with Real Madrid.

"There have been many recent reports from the news media that have attributed incorrect quotes from my office, including fabricated quotes that were attributed directly to me earlier today. I am out of the country in Mexico and have not spoken with any journalists since the afternoon of Jan. 13. We hope that journalists will be respectful and professional with covering this story."

Toronto FC introduced three of its four draft choices Monday, including the first pick over all from last Friday's process, Maurice Edu , is a defensive midfielder from the University of Maryland. He has signed a five-year deal.

Also at the conference were midfielder Rich Asante who was born in Ghana and raised in Toronto and forward Jeff Gonsalves of Newmarket, Ont. Toronto's other pick defender Andrew Boyens was at home in New Zealand.

Johnston said that forward Edson Buddle has agreed to contract terms. Buddle was acquired via trade from Red Bull New York in November.

Johnston says his team is "comfortable all through the field" but hopes to sign a pair of internationals within the next 10 days: a "seasoned pro" who is captain of both his club and national side and a younger player. The team is still looking for a playmaker in central midfield, a left-sided midfielder, a backup goalie and some forward help. Toronto FC has money to spare, with $625,000 (U.S.) left under the cap and $900,000 in so-called "allocation" money outside the cap, according to Johnston. "We're sitting pretty." With files from Canadian Press

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