TORONTO – It appears as if Richard Eckersley’s tenure with Toronto FC could be approaching its end.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made it clear on Tuesday that he does not believe that fullbacks should be on big-money contracts that are equivalent to those usually handed out to impact goalscorers in Major League Soccer.
Given the club’s recent move toward a more fiscally prudent approach to salary-cap management in the months ahead, that would suggest that the 24-year-old Eckersley – who quickly became a fan favorite after joining Toronto in 2011 – could be a casualty given his hefty paycheck.
“If you are on big salaries and maximum salaries in this league and above max salaries, you’ve got to be smart and in proportion with certain contracts,” Nelsen told reporters. “This is not anything to do with Richard because he is a fantastic player and a really good player in this league.”
“If you had Dani Alves, Glenn Johnson or Ashley Cole and you could put them on a $500,000, $600,000 or $700,000 contract here, you wouldn’t do it,” Nelsen explained. “It makes absolutely no sense to put a left or right back on that amount of money because it destroys your salary cap.”
Nelsen has spoken often of the hard decisions that he has had to make this season as he and the Toronto brass have tried to rectify the terrible shape the club’s salary cap was in when they inherited the team.
In that vein, much as he did when Darren O’Dea and Terry Dunfield left the club earlier in the season, the TFC gaffer was quick to state that Eckersley is simply in a difficult position by virtue of the contract that he was offered by the club’s previous management team.
“It is not the player’s fault that they are on these types of contracts,” Nelsen said. “But you have to balance you salary cap in proportion to where you want to have the most money on the field and where it can have the most amount of impact.
“And that is where I kind of feel really bad for Richard. He is kind of in that situation where his agent did a really good job for him and probably too good of a job.”
While Nelsen did not explicitly say that Eckersley won’t be returning for the 2013 campaign, he did admit that there will be further changes to TFC’s roster in the offseason and that fiscal considerations will be central to both departures from the team and new additions to the squad.
“We’re just trying to get a nice rebalance [of our salary situation], and next year that is what we have to do,” Nelsen stated. “We have to have some sort of fiscal responsibility when you are looking at contracts and types of contracts for different positions on the field.
“Obviously there will be a couple of movements, but everybody knows about the situation and everybody is grown up enough to understand where we are.”