For Toronto's Mariner, 2013 preseason already underway

Paul Mariner

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TORONTO – Toronto FC fans have been looking to turn the page since a record-setting nine-game losing streak to start the season. Head coach Paul Mariner says he’s already done just that.

“Ironically, I was talking to the staff and I said, ‘I can't wait for 6:10 on Sunday night,’ because as far as I'm concerned, my new season starts,” Mariner told reporters Sunday after the season ended with a 2-1 loss at Columbus.

He said he will leave on Tuesday on a scouting trip that he hopes will help him find some of the four or five players he feels he must add.

“I'm going to Europe on Tuesday and I'll be away for a period of time,” he said. “I've got my commitments in Toronto that I've got to fulfill, which it won't get in the way of that but as far as I'm concerned, preseason starts now.”

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Mariner also told MLSsoccer.com last week that he would include Africa in his scouting.

“It’s such a global business that you’ve got to explore every avenue and that’s what we’re going to do,” Mariner said.

Toronto had the worst of their six seasons in the league with a 5-21-8 record. They were 4-12-8 under Mariner after he took over in June from Aron Winter, but were winless in their final 14 games, including 10 losses.

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Yet Mariner is not sure that a massive overhaul is necessary. That depends upon how well such players as Danny Koevermans, Torsten Frings and Stefan Frei return from season-ending injuries. A fourth veteran, Eric Hassli, also has been injured off and on since his acquisition in late July.

“We’ve got to get a lot of injured people back, which is the No. 1,” Mariner said. “When you think about the injured people that are out, it’s basically down the spine of the team. I still maintain that we need four or five players and we’ll be OK."