Now that the initial euphoria over TFC's trade for Dwayne De Rosario has died down (just a little), it's time to take a level-headed look at the deal that brings Major League Soccer's top Canadian player to its only Canadian team.
First, I think it's a great trade if for no other reason than it stops reporters like me from asking Dwayne if he'd like to play in Toronto someday. By the end of season two reporters were as sick of asking the question as he was of answering it, but we had to ask just in case his answer changed...which it never did.
But seriously, it doesn't take a soccer genius, or even a humble reporter to deduce that it'll always help your team to have someone who can do this:
Off the field I think the trade works well for two reasons.
One, it shows everyone who follows TFC that Mo Johnston might actually have been telling the truth all those times he said he was working on something big. After two seasons covering TFC I was starting to wonder who this player named "allocation money" was, and why Mo kept trading for him. But now we see why Mo hoarded that cash, and if De Rosario can stay healthy and keep doing what he's been doing then TFC might just contend for a playoff spot.
Who knows. They might even overtake the Montreal Impact as the top pro team in Canada.
And two, it generates genuine interest in the team among the media and sports fans who aren't hardcore TFC supporters but who nonetheless have money and attention that they could spend on TFC if given a reason.
Acquiring one of the top Canadian players ever is a pretty good reason.
So here's where the role reversal comes in.
In two years on the beat, Cathal's usually been the bad cop to my sometimes good but usually at least not too bad cop.
But today, amid the joy surrounding De Rosario's arrival in Toronto I get to play bad cop by pointing out an important question this trade raises.
How do you spread the money around?
To borrow a phrase from John Carver, I want you to "cast your mind back" to September, when a few injuries and a full schedule of international games gutted TFC's lineup. To fill out their starting XI for a Sept. 6 game against Chivas USA, TFC had to bring in a team scout (Tim Regan), a Vancouver Whitecap (Diaz Kambere) and a volunteer (Ricky Titus, who refused payment lest it jeopardize his men's league eligibility).
The last minute call-ups didn't have to happen. At that point in the season TFC had four unused roster spots, and if they had filled those slots they could simply have promoted from within for that game.
But they didn't have the salary cap space, since the guys already on the roster had consumed all the available cash.
So what does this have to do with De Rosario?
Well, in bringing him on you're adding $325,000 in salary, while shedding about $45,000 in losing Julius James. So if TFC had planned on distributing money and bodies a little differently to safeguard against lineup-gutting FIFA dates, it just got a little tougher. If the team still wants to sign a DP, the $400,000 salary cap will make things trickier still.
But again, these are small issues in comparison to what the team stands to gain with a healthy, happy, motivated De Rosario in the lineup.
And if anything, his arrival and the salary cap dilemmas it might present probably just pave the way for more interesting roster moves.
-- Morgan Campbell