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Leg 1
11/23 5:00pm
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11/30 9:00pm
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Western Conference Championship
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11/23 1:30pm
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Eastern Conference Championship

TFC back line taking shape after injury-plagued 2011

TORONTO – Central defense was a weakness for Toronto FC last season. But indications from preseason training indicate that may be about to change, as there is potential for improvement coming from different fronts.

The two recently signed center backs – Geovanny Caicedo of Ecuador and Miguel Aceval of Chile – appear to be making the adjustment to their new surroundings.

Aaron Maund, who was taken with the 12th pick in the MLS SuperDraft last month, looks like a keeper. And Adrian Cann, whose season-ending knee injury left a gaping hole at center back in 2011, is continuing his rapid recovery from surgery during the club’s training in Orlando.

Last season, Toronto’s issues in the central defense became even worse when Cann’s injury was doubled down upon by a season-ending knee injury to Dicoy Williams, Cann’s partner in the back line. While Williams remained in Toronto when the team traveled to Orlando on Monday, Cann is thriving in Florida.

“He’s progressing very, very well,” director of player development Paul Mariner told MLSsoccer.com in a telephone interview on Thursday. “He’s not training with the group yet, but rather than weeks away, he’s a matter of days away.

“I’m not saying he’s going to be in contention, but he’s very, very fit and he’s really motivated. He’s done a fantastic job. You can see, he’s training on his own and he’s really working hard. He’s doing s great job to get himself in the right position.”

While Cann recovers, the newcomers are still getting used to their new surroundings. Mariner said there is always a “getting to know you” period for players from South America, but Caicedo and Aceval seem to be coping.

“They’re adjusting well,” Mariner said. “Real, real professional and really look as if they’re accomplished, polished players. We’re expecting some good things from them.”

Maund is a longer-term proposition as he makes the jump from college soccer at Notre Dame, but Mariner also is impressed with what he has seen.

“We’re very pleased with Aaron Maund,” Mariner said. “He’s an intelligent player, highly motivated, very powerful. I think he’s got a very, very bright future in Major League Soccer. He’s getting used to the system, getting used to the way that we train and stuff like that and is doing very well.”