April 17, 2007 Toronto FC Mo Johnston hopes for trade (from Toronto Star)

Let's make a deal: TFC

Johnston hopes to trade for defender or two to shake team from slump

Apr 17, 2007 04:30 AM
Morgan Campbell

As reporters toured Toronto FC's new locker room at BMO Field yesterday, a contractor with a drill was at work in the therapy room next door. Down the hall, plywood and plastic still covered the walls of the stadium's elevator. And some parts of the building were off limits to people without work boots and hard hats.

From a distance, the building appears finished, but look closer and it's clear crews have work to do to prepare it for Toronto FC's home opener April 28.

Toronto FC is in the same predicament.

A week before the season started, Houston Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear looked at the team's roster and pronounced it a playoff contender.

But after opening the regular season with two losses and no goals, Toronto head coach Mo Johnston said the roster will continue to evolve.

Toronto's next game is April 25 in Kansas City. Three days later, it will again play Kansas City in the home opener.

And though Johnston says he's remaining patient with his team, which has allowed six goals in two losses, he doesn't plan to wait long to start winning.

"Things will improve once we start to settle down and get our squad together," Johnston said yesterday. "But I don't want it to happen in two weeks' time. I want it to happen now. That's why I'm trying to make the trades right now, as we speak."

Johnston wants to bring in two defenders and a striker and said yesterday he was working on three trades. As he spoke to the Star he kept a hand on his blackberry, expecting at any moment to receive news that one of his proposed deals had succeeded.

"I'd like it to happen by the end of (yesterday)," he said. "Could it happen (today)? Yes. We're trying to put heads together, but will (the trade) happen? Probably."

BBC Sports reported yesterday that Toronto had already signed Daniele Dichio, a 32-year-old striker who scored seven goals in two seasons with Preston of England's Championship division.

Johnston wouldn't comment on Dichio yesterday, but did say a team with five strikers would make room for another one – if he's good enough.

"Of course you don't need five or six strikers, but you need four quality strikers to win a championship," Johnston said.

So far, Toronto hasn't taken advantage of MLS' designated player rule, which allows teams to exceed the salary cap to sign an overseas star. In January, the Los Angeles Galaxy signed David Beckham, and two weeks ago the Chicago Fire acquired Mexican star Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

Yesterday Sportsillustrated.com reported that Argentine standout Guillermo Barros Schelotto will sign a one-year contract with the Columbus Crew today.

Though he's concentrating on trades for now, Johnston suggested he might try to sign a high-profile, high-priced forward in the future.

"Chicago just added Blanco and spent $2 million on him," Johnston said. "We've not done that. We still have room for a designated player spot.

"There's a lot of moving to be done here."

Today, the team begins the first of several two-a-day practices.

Johnston says it's not common for pro teams to practice twice a day during the season, but says the schedule is necessary because his starters haven't worked together much.

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