January 11, 2007 Toronto FC first choice trade offer (from Canadian Press)

Posted AT 9:53 PM EST ON 11/01/07

Toronto FC's first overall pick draws interest
Canadian Press

Mo Johnston's phone kept ringing Thursday, with callers wanting to talk to the Toronto FC coach about David Beckham coming to MLS and the expansion team's first overall pick in Friday's MLS SuperDraft.

While the Beckham calls came from "both sides of the water," the draft questions came from rival MLS teams.

"Everybody wants it," Johnston said of the top pick from Indianapolis, site of the draft (The Score, 11:45 a.m. ET). "There's been about six or seven people I've spoken to about it."

The Scottish coach expects to hear from more, knowing that the offers might rise in the minutes leading up to the noon start of the draft.

"It's a game we all play," he said.

Johnston has played the game before. He ended up with the top pick last year with the MetroStars, sending the fifth overall pick and defender Jason Hernandez to Chivas USA to get it. The MetroStars used the No. 1 selection to take UCLA defender Marvell Wynne.

The Toronto coach knows what he wants.

"There's several players but we've been tapped into one since September, October. I've had him on my radar since January, February of last year, and didn't know if we were ever going to get him."

Johnston declined to identify the player in question. MLS coaches and GMs have been watching the top prospects at this week's player combine in Indianapolis.

Friday's draft consists of four rounds of 13 picks each.

As the league's lone expansion team this year, Toronto was given the first pick in each round. The first pick in the second round, 14th overall, went to FC Dallas in the deal that brought midfielder Ronnie O'Brien to Toronto.

So Toronto has the first, 27th and 40th overall picks.

Columbus has the second overall pick, followed by Kansas City, Real Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Colorado (acquired from New York), Chivas USA, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles (from Colorado), D.C United, New England and MLS champion Houston.

Canadians eligible in the draft include Toronto midfielder Rich Asante of Syracuse University, Delta, B.C., defender Nigel Marples of Towson, Markham, Ont., forward Jeff Gonsalves of Rhode Island, Campbell River, B.C., midfielder-forward Riley O'Neill of Kentucky and London, Ont., defender Tyler Hemming of Hartwick.

Asante, for one, would love to play at home.

"It would be a great accomplishment for me," Asante told Syracuse's official website. "To play in front of my friends and family would be special, but I'm just hoping to be selected. I'm somewhat nervous, but even if I'm not picked I'm going to continue to pursue a professional career in another league."

Johnston says he is picking on talent alone.

"There are some Canadians, but you know what, we feel there's certain guys who are better than them. And we're picking them. So it doesn't matter if you're American, Canadian, Japanese, Chinese. Whoever's the best, we'll take him. And it's not positionally."

The draft covers bother seniors from NCAA schools and players from Generation Adidas, a joint program between MLS and Adidas dedicated to developing young talent in a "professional environment."

Toronto FC currently has 12 players on its books, including Canadians Greg Sutton, Adam Braz, Chris Pozniak, Marco Reda and Jim Brennan.

The Toronto roster also includes forward Alecko Eskandarian, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft. Teen star Freddy Adu was No. 1 in the 2004 draft.

Both went to D.C. United.

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