By DAN KARELL
Last Tuesday, Toronto FC announced that they had signed three new players from abroad on-loan, with manager Ryan Nelsen looking to shore up the porous back line and increase the goal scoring chances.
One of the players signed was Queens Park Rangers defender Tal Ben Haim, but on Monday, President and General Manager Kevin Payne shed some light on the situation, saying that he wasn’t sure if Ben Haim would ever see the field in a TFC uniform.
“We rushed that deal to beat the (transfer) deadline,” Payne said to assembled media at a press conference. “We still have work to do to get a contract agreed in the future, so it’s possible that he might not play with us in the future.”
The Israeli international has had a difficult last 12 months, starting with relegation last year to League One in England with Portsmouth, then eventually agreeing to a mutual release last fall with the club, joining QPR in the winter, and now a move to Toronto.
“Essentially he is loaned to us, but we promised him that we would try to negotiate a longer term deal with him,” Payne said about Ben Haim, whose contract with QPR ends on June 30. “He’s a very valuable player. He’s got offers outside our league that are lucrative. He doesn’t want to jeopardize those for a two-month loan with us, so what we have said it that we’re fine with the idea that (he) won’t play for us unless we get a deal negotiated.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s press conference:
TFC INTERESTED IN SIGNING A DP THIS SUMMER
Outside of Robert Earnshaw, the staff at BMO Field haven’t been happy about the production from the forwards and wide midfielders this season.
To help bolster this, Payne said that he is currently in “fairly serious discussions” about making some trades to help the team, and he said once the summer transfer window opens on July 9, there is a good chance that at least one attacking designated player could be making his way to Toronto.
“That’s our target for the summer transfer window,” Payne stated. “We are looking at a couple of players that we think will make a very big difference on our team. They would be DP’s, and they would be in (the attacking) part of the field.”
Payne was quick though to say that he isn’t all too upset with the team’s offense at the moment, saying that simply they had to focus on improving the defense first.
“It’s not a lack of scoring that has cost us games, it’s really our inability to make the simplest plays at the back when crunch time comes,” Payne said.
PAYNE CRITICIZES MLS REFEREES
As honest and upfront as Payne was about his team’s defensive struggles, he was equally open to share what he feels are some poor performances by the referees in TFC’s recent matches.
“Our last three games we’ve had four different plays reviewed by the league after the fact,” Payne said. “In every instance, the league said ‘there could have been a red card’. They weren’t unanimous, but not one of those plays was even whistled.”
Speaking specifically about the recent match at the San Jose Earthquakes where Marvin Chavez elbowed a defenseless Logan Emery in the head, Payne could not comprehend how the officials missed it, and rued the fact that his side didn’t seem to be getting breaks that other teams are in terms of officiating.
“I’m just at a loss of how they would not call that. Everyone in the stadium saw that elbow,” Payne said with emotion. “The linesman was eight feet away, the referee is ten to 15 yards away, the fourth official, he’s in a perfect position to see it.
“I’ve brought this to the league’s attention, I’ve brought this to PRO’s attention, I’ve made clear our displeasure over the fact that we seem to be the lab rats to get more games for young referees, and I don’t like it at all.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Payne said that current forward and designated player Danny Koevermans could play in TFC’s reserve league game this Saturday.
- Payne expected the other two new loan signings, Jeremy Brockie from Wellington Phoenix in the A-League and Steven Caldwell in the League Championship, to arrive by Tuesday in Toronto and be ready for Saturday’s match at Columbus.
- Payne said that he’d like to establish a link with a USL-Pro team next season, and that they would probably opt out of the MLS reserve league.
What do you make of these notes? Do you see Ben Haim playing for TFC this season? Who do you see TFC signing as a DP? Do you agree with Payne’s comments about referees?
Share your thoughts below.