Mariner: We've Tabled Offers

Toronto head coach revealed some details from his recent European scouting trip on Saturday.

TORONTO – Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner was a guest of Soccer Central Matchday on Saturday afternoon. His appearance on the Sportsnet program was his first widely watched interview since returning from a scouting trip in Europe as he looks to build the 2013 squad.

“I’ve been away since (October 31) to Scandinavia and Cyprus, looking at players,” Mariner told program hosts Gerry Dobson and Craig Forrest, revealing that he took in eight games and interviewed potential TFC targets on his trip.

“We’ve tabled some offers, but until it’s signed you don’t know what you are going to get.”

RELATED: Hassli wants to extend Toronto stay | Hassli up for FIFA award
RELATED: Reds look to complement the core | Toronto cuts six | Eckersley expressive

Asked if the club was in the market for another designated player, Mariner was mindful that Toronto already has the maximum three players allowed under that category. With top forward Danny Koevermans and captain Torsten Frings progressing from respective knee and hip surgeries, the club will have to carefully assess its full inventory.

“This is part of the conundrum, when you don’t really know how somebody’s going to come back from an ACL (surgery) at Danny’s age,” the coach cautioned. “He’s working very hard, but you don’t know.”

The third designated player, Eric Hassli, is currently in contract talks with Toronto.  

“Hassli’s still at the club with us,” Mariner said of the French forward shortlisted for the 2012 FIFA Puskas award.

On the matter of what kind of players he is looking to sign, Mariner expressed that he plans to have inventive football on display at BMO Field in 2013 saying “we’ve got to be creative, we will be creative,” when matches resume next spring.

To help create space for those creative pieces, Mariner had to cut six players this week, obtaining breathing room in the $2.81 million salary cap allowed by Major League Soccer. The players released were defenders Adrian Cann, Ty Harden, Dicoy Williams, midfielder Oscar Cordon and forwards Nicholas Lindsay and Keith Makubuya.

Mariner hailed Harden and Cann as “fantastic servants for the club,” but their release was hastened by the reality that it “just gets in to a numbers game when you get to this part of the season.”

Each designated player counts for $350,000 against the salary cap, taking up more than one third of the budget.  The club additionally has high priced talents such as Darren O’Dea and Richard Eckersley in the upper tier of MLS earners. All combined, Toronto is starting from an advanced position on its player allowance.

“Then you just have to do the math to get everyone else in,” Mariner concluded.