Toronto FC's high-profile signings leave future of strikers Robert Earnshaw, Bright Dike in question

Robert Earnshaw celebrates his goal in TORvMTL

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO – With Toronto FC having already lined up the services of two high-profile strikers for the upcoming season, the moves backed up the promises club head honcho Tim Lieweke has been making since the day he took over as president and CEO of owners MLSE.

But where does that leave the team’s two key strikers from last year’s team, Robert Earnshaw and Bright Dike? That's unclear just weeks before the preseason begins.

Earnshaw, who led TFC in scoring with eight goals in 2013, is currently unsigned for the upcoming campaign. According to TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen, the club and Earnshaw have been in communication, but a deal has not yet materialized.

“We have offered Robert a contract, and at the moment he hasn’t said yes or no,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “He is thinking about it and weighing his options.”

“Earnie was great for us last year, and he scored eight goals,” Nelsen added. “But in all honesty, I think he wants to be a number one or two striker in this league – and he is that type of player. I can’t promise him that, so I have no problem with him kind of looking elsewhere.”

Dike, 26, was acquired by Toronto last September in a trade with the Portland Timbers and he quickly became a fan favorite in Toronto while starting five games and scoring one goal for the Reds down the final stretch of the season.

Over the course of the offseason the burly 6-foot-1 striker has had a training stint with storied Scottish side Celtic and recent rumors have linked Dike with an extended stay in Europe that could possibly do wonders for his aspirations of representing Nigeria at this summer’s World Cup.

While he confirmed that no official deal for Dike was in place, Nelsen also did not state unequivocally that the University of Notre Dame product would be playing for Toronto come March.

“We’ve actually had quite a few offers for Bright,” Nelsen said. “He is such an impactful player for us, and I’d love to keep him. But if we get a really good offer, then it is something we have to consider.”

The club confirmed Friday that they have agreed to terms on a deal with England international Jermaine Defoe, which comes on the heels of the acquisition of Brazilian Gilberto in December, giving TFC two Designated Players at the striker position.