CCL: Toronto-Los Angeles

Contrasting Days For CCL Foes

Much like the league table and MLS Cup Playoffs, the Major League Soccer silly season is being dominated by Los Angeles Galaxy. In contrast, its Champions League quarterfinal foe Toronto FC is mostly staying clear of the rumour mill. For the Reds, this is a rare luxury.

In Carson, the two-time defending league champion and 2011 MLS Cup winner is almost guaranteed to lose the services of set-piece specialist David Beckham to Paris Saint Germain. The French suitor's all-inclusive bid even considers finding a good school for Beckham's children.

The man that could replace Beckham on the right side of midfield, fullback/winger Sean Franklin, is out of contract forcing LA to add or re-acquire similar players as insurance.

Of contracts tendered, Brazilian midfielder Juninho is also a question mark. The on loan Sao Paulo player was the author of crucial goals in the storybook 2011 season but could spend 2012 elsewhere unless the price is right.

The latest piece of instability arrived on Friday, with coveted U.S. international centre back and MLS Defender of the Year Omar Gonzalez reportedly fielding offers from Club America in Mexico - in Spanish, of course.

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LA is a victim of its great success from two consecutive league winning seasons. Its players are valuable and given MLS clubs’ challenges with wage restrictions in a league that values parity, top teams – even almighty Los Angeles – can become defenceless against wealthy predators raiding its nest.  

One certainty seems to be that captain and MLS Cup MVP Landon Donovan will be back for 2012. The American star is going on loan to Everton Football Club for two months, but should return in time to face Toronto in March. Any kind of an injury to the American on his English adventure could turn Bruce Arena into Bruce Banner’s alter ego if all these other uncertainties persist through the winter months.

By comparison, Toronto’s offseason has been mundane. A couple of depth additions in Jeremy Hall and Reggie Lambe buttress the belief that the club has identified its targets and is simply biding time to add a few more pieces to the squad.

Centre back Adrian Cann's recovery from an ACL surgery is going well and his return will give the backline an immediate boost. No major players are expected to leave BMO Field, at least not in the way rumours and open wounds destabilized the start of 2011. At this time last year the BMO Field side didn't have a head coach in place either.

The 2012 season will be the first time since John Carver was in charge that Toronto will have the same bench boss at the start of a new year that finished the previous term. Unfortunately, much-loved Carver left early into the 2009 campaign, but Toronto expects Aron Winter to remain well beyond the spring to continue applying his long-term vision for TFC. Reds' fans have longed for such stability.

Unlike Los Angeles, with its many stars dominating the headlines almost daily for the wrong reasons, Toronto’s offseason has been comparatively calm and that’s a good thing.

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