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Toronto FC is not just cleaning house. The club is taking a blowtorch to its roster.
Shortly after Mexican site MedioTiempo reported that first-year TFC centre back Carlos Salcedo is on the verge of being moved to FC Juarez of Liga MX, TFC announced that the club has acquired Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for 19-year-old midfielder Ralph Priso, a 2023 international roster slot, a natural 2023 first-round MLS SuperDraft pick and General Allocation Money (GAM).
Colorado will receive a guaranteed $350,000 in 2022 GAM, $425,000 in 2023 GAM and up to $275,000 in conditional 2023 or 2024 GAM based on the player’s 2023 roster status.
As part of the trade, both clubs will retain a percentage of Kaye’s and Priso’s sell-on values.
“We are very excited to add Mark to our team,” said TFC head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley, who coached Kaye at LAFC. “Over the past five seasons, Mark has established himself as one of the better two-way midfielders in the league. He’s an intelligent player who likes to be around the ball, a good passer, ball-winner, competitor and teammate. We wish Ralph all the best in Colorado. He’s a great young man with a bright future ahead of him.”
A Toronto native, the 27-year-old Kaye returns to his home town after playing the past five seasons split between LAFC and most recently Colorado, where he made 36 appearances registering four goals and two assists across all competitions. With LAFC, Kaye registered nine goals and 18 assists in 89 appearances (MLS regular season, MLS Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup and Concacaf Champions League) and was named to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game. He played an instrumental role in LAFC’s 2019 Supporters’ Shield title and the Black and Gold’s run to the 2020 Concacaf Champions League final, where they finished as runners-up.
As for the Salcedo move, Bradley said the prospective deal is not 100% done and the former Mexican international may in fact be available for TFC’s match on Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes (though unlikely). Bradley did add that Salcedo has been going through some family health issues recently and said the best solution may be for Salcedo to return to his homeland.
“The family situation has made things difficult for him and it’s hard to be in two spots at the same time. He’s been back and forth (between Canada and Mexico) a lot,” said Bradley. “That’s difficult and I think he wants to make sure that things are taken care of the way they need to be.”
MedioTiempo reported that Juarez and Salcedo have reached an agreement for a three-year deal. Salcedo has hinted on Twitter recently that he may be on his way out. He did not train with the team on Friday ahead of Saturday’s match against San Jose.
Salcedo’s play with TFC this season has been inconsistent, certainly below the level of what an MLS club needs from a DP. If Salcedo departs, that would open up another Designated Player roster spot for TFC, who earlier this week traded star attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (also a DP) to Inter Miami for US$150,000 in general allocation money. With Salcedo out, the Reds would have only one DP player left on the roster – new forward Lorenzo Insigne – with two spots open. TFC is reportedly trying to acquire Juventus winger/attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi, who is 28.
As for the seemingly one-sided Pozuelo trade earlier this week, Bradley said there were a number of factors why the Seville native was moved. One: Pozuelo was in the last year of his contract with TFC. As well, Bradley wasn’t convinced that Pozuelo and Insigne would be a good fit together as the club moves forward in its rebuild.
Earlier in the season, Bradley tried to get Pozuelo to adapt to more of a two-way, central midfielder role in order to become a good fit with new forward Insigne. That didn’t take, and so after a couple of games, Pozuelo was allowed to go back to his free-wheeling, attacking style, meaning that the writing was on the wall that he would be moved.
PLAYOFF PUSH BEGINS IN EARNEST FOR TFC
It’s getting close to crunch time for TFC.
With 16 MLS games to play, the Reds are getting precariously close the point of no return in terms of falling too far behind in the Eastern standings to be able to reach a playoff spot. TFC (5W 10L 3D) is desperately in need of a string of wins as it is currently sitting seven points out.
Making a playoff run extra difficult is that TFC would be having to jump over five teams — a tall order with more than half the season in the rear-view mirror. Of the 16 regular season games remaining, incoming star forward Lorenzo Insigne will be available for a maximum of 13 of those as the former Napoli great won’t be returning from a calf injury until the July 23 game against Charlotte at the earliest. He should be ready, though, for the Canadian Championship final on July 26 when TFC faces Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Reds will be going after a record ninth Voyageurs Cup and for a place in next year’s Concacaf Champions League.
The Reds will have only one of their two new Italian national team players available for Saturday’s match against San Jose at BMO Field. Former Genoa left back Domenico Criscito trained all week and should be in the lineup.
However, Insigne, who signed an MLS-record, four-year deal in January said to be worth $45 million, will not make his Toronto debut on Saturday as first hoped because of the nagging calf injury suffered before the Finalissima on June 1.
TFC’s 2-0 loss to Seattle last Saturday was its eighth loss in its past 11 games. San Jose picked up its fourth win of the season last Sunday, beating Chicago, 2-1.
All four of the Earthquakes wins this season have come at home. They are one of three teams (Toronto and Colorado the two others) without a road win in 2022.
Earthquakes forward Benjamin Kikanovic scored both goals in the win against Chicago, the first multi-goal game of his career. Kikanović and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski were selected to the MLS Team of the Week.
San Jose is unbeaten in its last three meetings with Toronto, with the last match ending in a 2-2 draw in February 2020.
TFC’s 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders last Saturday marked the 26th straight match the Reds have conceded a goal in MLS play, tied for the sixth-longest streak in league history.
Toronto has now kept just one clean sheet in its past 48 MLS matches dating back to May 2021.