Febuary 10, 2007 Toronto FC training at The Ontario Soccer Centre (from Toronto Star)

Toronto FC now heads to Florida for 12-day camp

Coach admits team negotiating with U.S. striker Casey

Feb 10, 2007 04:30 AM

Toronto FC's first week of practice is over, so now the real training can begin.

Head coach Mo Johnston said he was satisfied with the first phase of pre-season training, which took place at the Soccer Centre in Vaughan. He said his main objective this week was to foster some chemistry and continuity among a group of men who had never played together before.

Next week, when the squad begins a 12-day camp in Sunrise, Fla., Johnson expects the intensity will soon rise, but realizes most players aren't in game shape yet.

"You can see they were still short of fitness," Johnston said. "That's normal. It's still pre-season, and it's a long pre-season."

The team is scheduled to play in an exhibition tournament in late March in South Carolina, and they'll open the regular season in Los Angeles April 7 against Chivas USA.

After practice yesterday Johnston gathered his players on the turf at the Soccer Centre in Vaughan. He then pulled several of them aside including open tryout survivor Jamaal Smith and thanked them for their effort, but told them they wouldn't make the trip to Florida.

"We're still missing six or seven quality international players from this group," Johnston said, pointing out that recent signee Carl Robinson and Brazilian midfielder Paolo Nagamura are slated to join the team in Florida next week.

Johnston wouldn't say whether the team had signed Conor Casey, but he did finally acknowledge that Toronto FC has been talking to the American striker.

Casey has spent more than two seasons with the German club Mainz, but has scored only three goals in 40 games. Johnston says Casey's stats don't tell the story.

"He's different from what we have here," Johnston said. "I know he's not played a lot in Germany, but the kid's a quality player."

Earlier this week his agent told the U.S. soccer website yanksabroad.com that Casey had already signed in Toronto and would meet the team in Florida on Monday.

EDU ON THE MEND: First-round draft pick Maurice Edu spent all week on the sidelines waiting for a stress fracture in his pelvic bone to heal. Edu, the first overall pick in the MLS draft, might begin practise next week.

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