TORONTO – Toronto FC interim GM Earl Cochrane isn’t sure how Wednesday’s Re-Entry Draft will play out. Seeing that it’s the first time MLS has held the draft, all he can do is speculate – but he's not afraid to jump in head first.
“We kind of thought it would be a case of experienced guys that are generally a little expensive and that’s what you find here,” he told MLSsoccer.com from his office Friday afternoon.
The full list of available players was released by the league on Friday and contained some notable names, such as former MLS MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Jeff Cunningham, Juan Pablo Angel and Jimmy Conrad. Despite the star power available, Cochrane says he expects most of the action to involve lesser-known names.
“It will likely be those mid-level guys that are willing to come down [in salary] that will be most valuable to teams,” he said. The stars might generate interest, he added, but only in specific situations where the fit is perfect.
Although Cochrane was tight-lipped about TFC’s plans for the draft, he did say that the club is always looking to address the areas that need improvement. If the right player is available, Toronto won’t hesitate to grab him.
“We’re looking at several key components that anyone that knows our roster will understand,” Cochrane says. “There are maybe six key starting-11 type players we are after. The rest is about filling out our roster.”
[inline_node:304459]One players that is unlikely to be back with the Reds in 2011 is defender Nick Garcia (at right). The veteran was left exposed for the Re-Entry draft, the only Toronto player involved. Cochrane says that they couldn’t make Garcia fit within the club’s salary budget for next season.
He expects the center back will be an interesting player to other clubs.
“Guys like Nick are extremely valuable to teams,” Cochrane said. “Not only do they have a lot of experience, but they are also extremely cerebral in the way they look at the game.”
According to Cochrane, Toronto would be willing to talk to Garcia about coming back if he isn’t claimed in the draft, but the club is moving ahead with the assumption that he won’t be back.
There are two phases to the draft. In the first phase, taking place on Wednesday, teams may claim players that are in the option year of their contract provided they are willing to offer a five percent pay increase for 2011. Players not claimed in the first phase can then be selected by clubs in the second phase, held on Dec. 15. There, teams are drafting for the right to negotiate with the player.
Unclaimed players after the second phase are able to negotiate with any club they wish.
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