March 31, 2007 Toronto FC beat Charleston Battery in Carolina Challenge Cup (from Toronto Star)

Toronto 3, Charleston 0

Mar 31, 2007 09:15 PM
Morgan Campbell
Sports Reporter

DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – Midway through the first half tonight Toronto FC forward Abbe Ibrahim took a corner kick from Alecko Eskandarian and knocked it into the back of the net.

Ibrahim started the game, and his goal gave Toronto a 2-0 lead against the Charleston Battery, and helped them come close to winning the Carolina Challenge Cup. But the Togolese striker’s status with the squad is still uncertain, and is one of several unanswered questions for Toronto FC as they prepare for their regular season debut next weekend.

After losing the 2-0 to the Houston Dynamo last Saturday, Toronto defeated the New York Red Bulls Wednesday night and won 3-0 over Charleston today. Eskandarian, Ibrahim and Edson Buddle scored for Toronto, which finished second in the four-team tournament. Houston won the title with a 2-1 victory over New York.

Every team that has won this tournament, now in its fourth year, has either won the MLS Cup or finished the regular season with the league’s best record.

Head coach Mo Johnston is happy with the second-place finish, but says the team still has room to improve. He’s eager to see how they play once projected starters like Carl Robinson, Paulo Nagamura and Maurice Edu join the lineup.

“This stands us in good stead before we go to L.A. (for the season opener),” Johnston said. “I just wish we had a little more time to work because we’ve not yet had our best 11 on the field.”

But at least Johnston knows those players are returning. Ibrahim has been playing without a contract since February, and can’t sign until he resolves his visa problems and no one with Toronto FC knows when that will happen. In the meantime, Ibrahim, who played for Johnston in New York two seasons ago, can’t enter Canada.

Johnston said the team might fly him straight to Los Angeles, where Toronto FC opens its regular season on Saturday against Chivas USA, or leave him in Charleston and loan him to the Battery.

Either way, Johnston will continue dealing with roster issues as the season opener approaches.

Major League Soccer allows each team to have carry 28 players on its active and reserve rosters, and as of last night Toronto had only 24 under contract. Johnston said he worked up until to today’s deadline to sign another player but couldn’t make it happen.

“This is a brand new team and there are going to be changes,” Johnston said. “I just wish there wasn’t a transfer window because there wasn’t enough time today to get everything done.”

Johnston said he’s still looking for players at every position and would consider making a trade this week, but denied reports that he tried to bring former Colorado forward Clint Mathis to Toronto. He said he was working on a three-team trade that would have sent Mathis to another squad.

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