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View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:10 am

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TORONTO -- Toronto FC players practised Wednesday before scattering to make the most of four days off thanks to a bye this weekend. The MLS clubs braintrust also has big plans. Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment boss Tim Leiweke, club GM Tim Bezbatchenko and manager Ryan Nelsen head to Europe later this week in search of marquee players. With the renewal deadline for season ticket-holders pushed back to January, it could be one of the most important hunts for talent in the underachieving franchises seven-year history. Leiweke told a recent supporters breakfast that the itinerary includes "a half-dozen players and teams." The focus is on players with English Premier League and Italian Serie A clubs. "The days of us putting our toe in the water and trying to find a cheap DP (designated player) are over. Were going to go swing for the fences," said the man who brought David Beckham to MLS. "Well see you in January. Because by then we either will have delivered or failed you again," he added. "Im not interested in seeing you in January and failing you again. Its time we started doing things right." Top of the list are two strikers, to be signed as designated players. "Of course we have our targets that we want to sign," Nelsen said after practice Wednesday. "Well be putting our head down and trying to get them." Players out of contract this summer can be signed six months in advance of that, so news could come in the January window. But Nelsen cautioned that wooing a player can take time. "In my experience of being in the situation myself, being on the other side of it, it generally takes a bit of time," he said. "But Id come back to you and say we might have already started that a few months ago." Still the good ones take the most time to romance, he added. Chances are this trip will be only part of the sales pitch. Designated players allow MLS clubs to sign marquee talent without throwing their US$2.95-million salary cap into disarray. Only $368,750 of a DPs salary counts against the cap, less if the player is young ($150,000 for a player 20 and younger and $200,000 for a player aged 21 to 23). TFCs current DPs -- both injured -- are 34-year-old Dutch striker Danny Koevermans, whose actual salary is $1.66 million, and 21-year-old Argentine midfielder Matias Laba ($200,000). Clubs are allowed two designated player slots and can buy a third slot for a one-time fee of $150,000 (the fee is waived if the third roster slot is for a young DP). Past DPs in Toronto were Canadian international midfielder Julian de Guzman, Spanish striker Mista, French forward Eric Hassli and former German international midfielder Torsten Frings. Mista was a bust while De Guzman was a decent player who didnt deserve DP status. Hassli was a panic pickup in the face of growing injuries up front. Frings, a former club captain, was a classy former international whose considerable influence was slowed by injury. He also often had to play out of position because the Toronto talent cupboard was so bare. Of the current crop, Koevermans impact has also been blunted by injury. When healthy, the big Dutchman was a scoring threat in MLS. But he has been rarely fit, with a flurry of minor niggles following serious knee surgery. Laba seems a good use of the young DP. But none have combined the kind of success on the pitch and influence off it that Leiweke considers the DP job description to entail. Toronto also chose not to bestow DP status on Canadian attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who went on to win MVP honours elsewhere. "Weve done a bad job with DPs here. Period," Leiweke said. Said Bezbatchenko: "Clearly when you look at our team, we have not had goal-scorers. Proven world-class goal-scorers." The number-crunching GM estimates an MLS team needs between 46 and 55 goals a year to get into the playoffs. Toronto, which has 29 goals with two games to go this season, has averaged between 30 and 35. While the Toronto franchise has a history of underperforming and poor management, it does have many selling points. MLSE has lots to offer as an owner, with deep pockets and big league properties. Toronto is a safe cosmopolitan city that offers its soccer players relative anonymity compared to the fishbowl that is the European game. And while BMO Field is a hardly a jewel of a stadium, the clubs training facility is top-drawer. Leiweke is a slick closer with a good track record. The newly retired Nelsen has an impressive Rolodex thanks to his years of playing in the Premier League and connections through the New Zealand national team. No doubt he has used it to good effect. Nelsen, who still has a home in London from his days with Tottenham and Queens Park Rangers, is likely to stay a little longer in Europe to take in next Tuesdays friendly between Canada and Australia at Londons Craven Cottage. Canadian coach Benito Floro has called up four Toronto FC players for the game: defenders Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Kyle Bekker. The rest of TFC players are set to return to training Monday, in advance of their penultimate game of the season Oct. 19 at Chicago. The club badly needs to restore its relevance. Attendance has been slipping. Once the poster-boy of the league for its crammed stands and season-ticket waiting list, Toronto is drawing season-low crowds. Toronto (5-16-11) currently stands 10th in the 19-team league with average attendance of 18,439. Alarmingly, the last three home games have drawn announced crowds of 15,879 (D.C. United), 12,627 (Sporting Kansas City) and 15,217 (Chicago). Media coverage has also waned. Wednesdays practice drew one reporter. NOTES -- Captain Steven Caldwell has returned to Scotland due to death in the family ... Midfielders Bobby Convey, Darel Rusell and Alvaro Rey missed practice Wednesday through injury ... Goalkeeper Joe Bendik (two yellows in Philadelphia) and midfielder Jeremy Hall (*** of yellows) are suspended for next weeks Chicago game. Cory Schneider Jersey . He could have transferred when academic sanctions barred the Huskies from the NCAA tournament his junior season. Scott Stevens Jersey . The Swede became the first golfer to win the PGA Tours FedEx Cup and European Tours Race to Dubai in the same season. "It is still taking a little time to sink in what Ive achieved this week as was the case when I won the FedEx Cup but then it just kept getting better and better as the days went on and I am sure this will be the same," he said. .Y. - The New York Yankees made it official Saturday, announcing the completion of a seven-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and a one-year contract for returning starter Hiroki Kuroda. Keith Kinkaid Jersey .com) - Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has been selected as the NHLs Rookie of the Month for December, the league announced Friday. Brian Boyle Jersey . After a first half in which he thought "the lid was on the basket," the Toronto Raptors coach watched his squad mount a second half surge to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-91.COLUMBUS, Ohio - Cam Atkinson had not scored a goal in his last 18 games.Put on the same line with a couple of the central figures from this past weekends NHL All-Star game, he finally found the net.Atkinson and Fedor Tyutin each had a goal and an assist, and Curtis McElhinney made 25 saves to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.Ryan Johansen, the MVP of the All-Star game played on the Blue Jackets home ice, also had a goal and Atkinsons other linemate, Nick Foligno, an All-Star captain, had two assists.I felt like I wasnt shooting enough, said Atkinson, who hadnt scored since Dec. 4. Obviously, when youre playing with a couple of All-Stars, they can help you out a little bit. I just tried to shoot when I could and make plays.Columbus coach Todd Richards stuck Atkinson on the same line with Johansen and Foligno hoping to light a fire under him.The thought process was, I was just trying to find the right combinations to get more offence, Richards said. Its been a long time (for Atkinson). Hes a guy who has a knack for the net. Hes got that offensive ability. Its been dry for a while for him, but it was great to see that tonight.Mark Letestu added a goal for the Blue Jackets, who know they cannot lose many times the rest of the way if they want to make another charge — as they did last year under similar conditions — to make the playoffs.Our line could have had six goals out there, said Johansen, who had two goals and two assists in Sundays wild 17-12 All-Star game. Im happy with the result.McElhinney, starting in place of top goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who will miss four to six weeks with a groin injury, made several big saves down the stretch.Washington countered Columbus goals with scores of their own three times until the Blue Jackets finally took over late.Obviously, they came right back a couple of times, but for the most part we stayed on the path, McElhinney said. We had a pretty solid third perriod to wrap it up.ddddddddddddvgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, and Andre Burakovsky and Troy Brouwer also scored for the Capitals, who have lost four in a row (0-3-1). Braden Holtby made 26 saves and Matt Niskanen had two assists.Were just giving up too many goals right now, coach Barry Trotz said. In this league, trying to win every game 5-4, youre not going to do it.With the Blue Jackets up 3-2 heading into the third period, Atkinson ended up with a loose puck in the high slot and wristed a hard shot past Holtby high on the stick side for his ninth at the 5:20 mark.I was kind of stunned when the puck came back to me, Atkinson said. I got it off as quick as I could and it found the back of the net.The Capitals scored 33 and 36 seconds after the previous two Columbus goals. Marcus Johanssons shot from the left wing was blocked by McElhinney, but Kuznetsov was there in the slot, going down to one knee to fire in the rebound. It was his fifth of the season and came with 7:51 remaining in regulation.But the Blue Jackets held on the rest of the way, Atkinson clanging a shot off the post after a steal and then Holtby making terrific saves on Johansen point blank and James Wisniewski on a late power play.NOTES: Alex Ovechkin spent six days in a row in Columbus, sticking around after the All-Star game to meet the rest of the Capitals when they arrived on Monday. ... Like a lot of snowbirds, the Blue Jackets are heading to Florida. Theyll play the Panthers and Lightning on Thursday and Saturday before returning home. ... Washingtons Nicklas Backstrom got his 400th career assist on Burakovskys goal. He hurt his hand in the third and went to the dressing room, but returned after missing a couple of shifts. ... Folignos two assists gave him 250 career NHL points. ... The Capitals host Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. ... Johansen has points in his last nine home games.___Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: Cheap Throwback Baseball Detroit Tigers Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Colorado Rockies Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Houston Astros Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Kansas City Royals Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Los Angeles Angels Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Los Angeles Dodgers Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Miami Marlins Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Milwaukee Brewers Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Minnesota Twins Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball New York Mets Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball New York Yankees Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Oakland Athletics Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Philadelphia Phillies Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Pittsburgh Pirates Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball San Diego Padres Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball San Francisco Giants Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Seattle Mariners Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball St. Louis Cardinals Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Tampa Bay Rays Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Texas Rangers Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Toronto Blue Jays Jerseys Cheap Throwback Baseball Washington Nationals Jerseys ' ' '

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