Toronto FC move forward with rebuild, part ways with 7 players, including striker Robert Earnshaw

Toronto FC announced Friday that they have parted ways with seven players, including former Wales international striker Robert Earnshaw, the team's leading scorer this past season, his first with TFC.

Toronto declined their option on Earnshaw despite the fact that the 31-year-old scored eight goals in his first MLS season. However, Toronto’s new leadership has expressed a desire to acquire a Designated Player at the striker position, leaving Earnshaw’s future in doubt.

TFC also declined 2013 options on former US international Bobby Convey and midfielders Darel Russell and Michael Thomas. Forwards Danny Koevermans and Justin Braun and goalkeeper Stefan Frei remain out of contract.

Meanwhile, the club exercised contract options on 12 players, while nine players are already under contract for the 2014 season.

TFC picked up the contract options on goalkeepers Joe Bendik, Chris Konopka and Quillan Roberts; defenders Gale Agbossoumonde, Mark Bloom and Ryan Ricther; midfielders Kyle Bekker, Reggie Lambe and Jeremy Hall; forwards Bright Dike, Emery Welshman and Andrew Wiedeman.

The nine players already under contract for the 2014 season are defenders Jonas Elmer, Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, Richard Eckersley and Steven Caldwell and midfielders Matias Laba, Jonathan Osorio, Manuel Aparicio, and Alvaro Rey.

“We are writing a new story for TFC, and it begins with our current players,” Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. "We have not had a solid core group like this in a long time, and this core is prepared and excited about taking this club to the next level. We will continue discussing the possibility of returning next season with those players whose options were declined.”