Carlos Salcedo "likely" returning to Liga MX; Toronto FC eye "more reinforcements"

Toronto FC could soon open another Designated Player spot, head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley all but confirmed after Saturday’s 2-2 draw vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.

Bradley corroborated reports that center back Carlos Salcedo is likely heading back to Liga MX this summer, less than six months removed from joining Toronto from Tigres UANL in a swap of one-time DP winger Yeferson Soteldo.

The latest reports link the Mexican international to FC Juárez. Salcedo, a former Real Salt Lake homegrown, has played in 13 games for one of the league’s worst defenses (36 goals allowed). He wasn't in the matchday squad against San Jose.

“I don't think anything's final, but it's such that he will likely end up with a club in Mexico,” Bradley said. “For a personal, family situation, it was important for him to be back in Mexico.”

Pozuelo, Kaye & Bernardeschi

That’d be the latest move in the Reds’ remarkably busy Secondary Transfer Window, which on Thursday saw a DP spot open after midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo, the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, was traded to Inter Miami CF for $150,000 in General Allocation Money.

The pace only intensified Friday when Canadian international midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rapids, with homegrown midfielder Ralph Priso, $1.025 million in General Allocation Money and other assets going the other way.

All the while, they’re strongly linked with signing Italy international attacking midfielder Fernando Bernardeschi as he departs Serie A powerhouse side Juventus. The free agent would reportedly be a DP, taking Pozuelo’s slot with another key tag remaining should Salcedo formally depart.

There’s plenty in the works, club president Bill Manning said on Saturday’s TSN pre-game show. The window opened July 7 and carries through Aug. 4.

“Possibly another addition or two,” Manning said. “ … Lots of balls in the air. We’ll see what happens.”

Insigne injured, Criscito debuts

The remarks all came before or after a match that was supposed to be superstar forward Lorenzo Insigne’s debut for Toronto. But the Italy international, who signed a pre-contract from Napoli last winter, is out through at least July 23's home game vs. Charlotte FC due to a calf injury. Insigne’s their long-term centerpiece, joining as a DP through June 2026.

The draw against San Jose, which moved Toronto's record to 5W-10L-4D on the year, did mark the debut of defender Domenico Criscito. The former Italy international most recently captained Genoa in Serie A, and arrives through 2023 to help solidify their backline.

As it stands, Toronto are 12th in the Eastern Conference standings and seven points below the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs line. They’ve completed over 30 incoming and outgoing transactions already this year, Bradley’s first upon leaving LAFC, and more seem on the way.

“We knew we were going to take some lumps early on. We’re a little further out of the playoff line than we were hoping to be,” Manning said, as Toronto have heavily leaned on youngsters. “ … Hopefully by the 23rd when we get a bit more of a full lineup with Lorenzo, Mark-Anthony Kaye, maybe some more reinforcements, we can get ourselves on a run as we go into the last part of the season.”

Toronto are also craving some stability as their roster more closely resembles the desired mix.

“As we go into the winter window prior to next season, hopefully we’re in a position where we’re fine-tuning and tweaking to really have the nucleus of a squad,” Manning said. “Because Mark-Anthony Kaye, Lorenzo, they’re going to be core guys now for this club for the next 3-4 years for sure.”

Kaye’s impact

One incoming move that’s guaranteed, of course, is Kaye. The 27-year-old reunites with Bradley, with whom he won the 2019 Supporters’ Shield at LAFC. He's likely heading to the Qatar 2022 World Cup in November, Canada's first in more than three decades.

“He understands the ideas of how we want to play – when we talk about a midfield three, his understanding of how to be connected with the other two, find space,” Bradley said. “He's a good forward passer. He's got good reactions when balls turn over. I think he brings a lot of good qualities. He's a good guy. I think he's really excited to be coming back to Toronto.”

Kaye spent time in Toronto’s academy during his youth career, allowing for a homecoming of sorts. He figures to partner with Michael Bradley and international teammate Jonathan Osorio centrally, strengthening the Reds’ spine.

“A guy in the prime of his career, full Canadian international, from here, from Toronto,” Manning said. “Look, we think he’ll have a massive impact on our midfield, our ability to keep the ball out of the net, a true pro. [We’re] looking for him to be here through World Cup 2026, which would be here in Toronto. So a lot of positives there.”