Toronto FC signs Carl Robinson (from Toronto Star)

T.O. FC bolsters midfield with Welsh international

Coach Johnstone lures Robinson from Norwich City

Feb 02, 2007 04:30 AM
Morgan Campbell

Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston hopes to bring at least 26 players to training camp in Sunrise, Fla., in less than two weeks, knowing several won't make the final cut.

But he's sure Carl Robinson will. The Welsh international and now former Norwich City midfielder signed this week with Toronto FC and yesterday the team introduced him to the local media and his teammates.

"Mo speaks highly of all the lads and I want to be a part of that," said the 30-year-old Robinson.

Players reported for their medical exams yesterday.

Toronto also traded midfielder Rod Dyachenko to D.C. United for a first-round draft pick next year, and Johnston said the transactions aren't finished. He expects to sign at least three more players before the team leaves for the first of its two pre-season stints in Florida.

"We're in talks with an international striker," Johnston said, without naming the player. "And I think we can get him."

The signing of Robinson, who has earned 35 caps with the Welsh national team, consummates a soccer courtship that began more than three years ago. Back then Johnston was coaching with New York/New Jersey while Robinson split time between Sheffield United and Sunderland.

When he learned Johnston wanted him in Toronto, Robinson visited the city.

"I made up my mind (to sign with Toronto) straight away," Robinson said. "Then I had to figure out how to get myself out of my current club situation."

Robinson returned to England and persuaded Norwich City of the Football League Championship (one tier below the Premiership) to void the final two years of his contract. He played his last game with Norwich, a 1-0 loss to Wolverhampton, three days ago, before signing a two-year contract with FC.

"I feel it's the right decision for me," he said. "I'm a winner. I want to win at everything I do, whether it's a training game or whether it's a proper match. Mo's a winner. As soon as I spoke to him, he sold it to me."

In Toronto, Robinson knows his job isn't just to anchor the midfield. He's also expected to speed the development of first-round draft pick and fellow midfielder Maurice Edu, who attended the news conference along with several teammates.

"I'm sure we're going to build good chemistry off the field, and that's going to lead to good chemistry on the field," Edu said.

"I'm a young guy. This is my first year in the league and I'm looking to learn. He's full of knowledge. I'm going to watch him, see what he does, ask a lot of questions."

It'll have to wait, though. Edu says a stress fracture in his pelvic bone will sideline him for two more weeks.

The local portion of FC's pre-season practice starts tomorrow at the Soccer Centre in Vaughan, where they will work out for the next week.

On Feb. 12 they leave for a 12-day stay in Sunrise, Fla., then head to Bradenton on March 5, for 12 more days.

CSA HONOURS: Houston forward Dwayne De Rosario, the runner-up in last year's MLS MVP race, will be named Canadian player of the year today by the Canadian Soccer Association and Christine Sinclair will be the women's player of the year, according to sources.

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