Toronto FC President Tom Anselmi referenced TFC captain Dwayne de Rosario's choreographed demand for a pay raise at an ill advised time and location - BMO field in front of 16,000 supporters - as something the club can move on from because Dwayne is happy to stay. Well, that is one solution.
Here is another, which is just as simple and straight forward. Trade him in the January transfer window. There should still be a few takers. For instance, Real Salt Lake could possibly be persuaded to exchange their Canadian national team player Will Johnson for de Rosario along with a draft selection or allocation money.
On $80,000 a year salary, Johnson would be a bargain even with a good pay raise. Relieving the strain on the salary cap would be the added bonus for TFC. Plus the long term upside of the trade would be a better return on investment as Johnson is only 23 and is an excellent midfield player.
For Toronto FC this is about using a business is business methodology and there can be no sentimentality over de Rosario. It is true that everyone makes mistakes, and there should be compassion for forgiveness, but this is a behavioural pattern from the same player.
In 2004 he was a part of a player revolt against Holger Osieck the then Canadian World Cup coach; in 2007 he was dropped from the Canadian World Cup team for speaking negatively about head coach Dale Mitchell; two weeks ago he did the same thing with former TFC head coach Preki. Time is up.
In this instance it should translate into TFC trading their biggest asset for value now as opposed to later where there will be none. Moving de Rosario will change the team culture once and for all by replacing their star man. TFC management should then pull the trigger on the removal of their two current designated players who have miserably underperformed.
Replacing de Rosario's firepower (12 goals so far this season) can be achieved through investment on three new designated players, only this time the right ones. Of course, that will take some due-diligence and soccer smarts which has been sadly missing from the Toronto FC club from day one.
In making changes TFC management should not stop there as they have created considerable angst and disharmony among their fan base.
Addressing the fan unrest will require a savvy and open-minded approach from MLSE executives. Engaging supporter groups on a different level will now be important in order to diffuse the supporter's torment when their team fails so pitifully.
MLSE could do worse than travel to England to meet with representatives from Supporters Direct, an organization that assists English football clubs in building non-adversarial relationships with their fan base by including them in decision making processes and, in some instances, as representatives on their football club boards.
Toronto FC have in the past engaged their supporters but a more formal process will allow fans a professional voice where they will understand and contribute to the process. Then when the inevitable downtimes occur, be it adverse results or unforeseen circumstances, the fallout from supporters should not be quite so dramatic as threats to boycott games.
Toronto FC fans were the first out of the gate in Major League Soccer for setting a benchmark on how to support their team in numbers and with passion. They now need to provide the same commitment in the supporting their TFC team through thick and thin. Loyalty as opposed to fickleness.
But the onus is on MLSE and TFC to earn that the loyalty. So far they have let the supporters down.
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