Three days after reports first surfaced that TFC midfielder Maurice Edu was headed to Glasgow Rangers, the folks at Toronto FC have finally broken their silence on the subject.
Normally they prefer to stay quiet on player transactions until they're 100 percent official, but with news of Edu's $5 million transfer continuing to circulate, TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston figured it was time to speak out and clarify a few things.
Again, this deal isn't completely done, but Johnston confirmed published reports that it's all sewn up except for Edu's work permit. That process could take a few more days, but Johnston doesn't foresee any major holdups.
According to Johnston, Rangers have been interested in Edu since last season, but the league wasn't ready to sell him back then. (Remember, MLS and not the teams owns the players' contracts.)
So Rangers sat tight and monitored Edu's progress, and after watching him play for the U.S. Olympic team, they made another play for the 22-year-old Californian.
This time, the timing and the price were right. The league okayed the sale, and so did Johnston, even though it meant letting go of one of the team's most recognizable faces, and the first player the franchise ever drafted.
"You can't hold someone like that back," Johnston said. "I'm a bit upset, but there's a bit of joy."
Upset because Edu's departure leaves a big hole in TFC's midfield. Johnston said he's already trying to land "the next Edu," but says that won't happen until next season.
And joy because the move to Scotland is another step toward soccer's biggest stage for a guy who has vaulted from college student to draft pick to Scotland's premier league in a hurry.
"It's a hell of a story in 16 months," Johnston said.
Johnston might also be happy because the deal gives TFC plenty of what every team needs.
A few commenters had asked what happens to the transfer money when MLS holds all the contracts.
Here's what happens:
League takes one third of the money, which in this case is a little under $1.7 million ($1,666,666.67 to be exact).
Of the roughly $3.3 million that remain, $500,000 goes to the team's allocation fund, which seems to grow with every transaction.
The final $2.8 million belong to the team to spend on soccer operations, which could include anything from the academy to training facilities to, dare we mention it, a grass playing surface.
That last suggestion's not coming from me. Johnston threw it out there during our conversation today. I'm sure it was mostly hypothetical. Johnston knows as well as anyone that there's a lot of politics involved in converting BMO Field to grass. But if the Edu sale helps make it possible, do you think they would name the new surface after him?
Maurice Edu Pitch at BMO Field?
Just a thought.
-- Morgan Campbell