File this under the heading "least surprising transactions of the summer."
TFC waived Laurent Robert this afternoon.
He came here in April, highly recommended by folks back in England, where he last played for the since-relegated premiership squad Derby County.
"If he produces anything that I saw when he was in Newcastle then we've got a good player." That's what the TFC head coach said upon acquiring Robert. "I know him better than anybody. I know what he's like. I know he's a good professional. I know he looks after his body. I know he's got a lot to offer this club. He's somebody special."
Turns out that was a big "if."
Robert shone early on, setting up Jeff Cunningham's game-winning goal in L.A. in mid-April, then scoring a game-winner of his own the following week against Real Salt Lake.
But since then he has done little beyond consume a large chunk of the team's salary cap (a team-high $337,300 guaranteed) and look listless on the left wing.
Sometimes, if you were looking for them, you saw small indications that the coaching staff weren't so enamoured with him anymore.
Or just didn't care.
One night the handwritten gameday roster submitted by the team and distributed to reporters identified him as "Lauren" Robert.
But the low point came Sunday against the New York Red Bulls, when the ball rolled Robert's way and he cocked his vaunted left foot to blast the ball downfield.
Then he whiffed.
Lost his balance and hit the turf.
At halftime the team replaced him with newly signed 21-year-old Johann Smith, and even though he didn't score, he brought something to the game TFC fans hadn't seen from Robert since springtime.
If you're keeping track, TFC signed three fairly high-profile and fairly high-priced thirtysomethings in April, an experiment in importing experience that hasn't ended well.
Defender Olivier Tebily, 32, brought a bruising physical presence to the team's back line, but then got hurt and never returned to the lineup. Late last month he convinced the team to waive him so he could spend more time with his family in France.
Robert, 33, was let go today.
That leaves 32-year-old Amado Guevara, who just finished a serving a two game suspension for punching FC Dallas' Pablo Richetti.
If Guevara returns to the team this week and plays like he did in April and May, then maybe TFC will have profited from its early-season anti-youth movement.
But if you need more evidence that the team is looking to move in a new direction after cutting ties with Tebily and Robert, consider that the average age of its last two acquisitions, Chad Barrett and Johann Smith, is 22.
This isn't to say that TFC has given up on winning this year in favour of building for the future.
But throw in the recent trade of Jeff Cunningham -- a 32-year-old who made $257,000 -- and the trend becomes even more clear.
Looks to me like the days of building around aging, expensive players is over.
For now, at least.
-- Morgan Campbell