Paul Mariner
TorontoFC.ca

Toronto confident about finding help in draft

TORONTO – Paul Mariner hasn’t had much time to catch up with old friends during the first week of his return to North America. Trying to cram what has been months of work for most clubs into less than seven days doesn’t leave much time for socializing, after all.

Still, TFC’s new director of player personnel said that the club will be prepared come Thursday’s SuperDraft.

“We’re not coming in as blind as people think,” Mariner said from Baltimore. “We were fortunate in that we’ve had Danny Dichio, Jimmy Brennan, [senior academy coach] Jason Bent, and [chief scout] Tim Regan that have been working to prepare a report on all the players.”

When Mo Johnston was sacked as general manager, the four men, along with former interim GM Earl Cochrane, were told to prepare as if they would be responsible for leading the team through to the end of the draft. Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com in December that the Reds’ draft preparation did not differ significantly from what it was in the past years.

Some pressure has been lifted off Toronto’s shoulders, with the Reds not holding a first-round pick, said Mariner.

“We’re, what, 26?” he asked rhetorically. “To be honest, that’s a bit deep down the depth chart. Still, there is potential there.”

Although he would not discuss specific players that TFC are interested in, Mariner did suggest they were confident they could find someone that can help. They have no positional preference, he added.

“We’re still looking for the same factors – good technique, tactical awareness,” said Mariner. “Ultimately, we have a list that we’ve developed and it’s just a matter of picking the best player available.”

Toronto have not ruled out trading up in the draft, but Mariner said they wouldn’t know whether that made sense until they start to see the day unfold.

“We will watch it play out and if we see a chance to get a player we like we will make the move to go up.”

With news this week of home-grown player Nicholas Lindsay out for the year with a knee injury and suggestions from Scotland that Dwayne De Rosario may be staying at Celtic longer than thought, Mariner knows Toronto need to bring some warm bodies out of the draft.

That is front and center in the new management’s thoughts as they reload for the 2011 season.

“Worried is the wrong word,” said Mariner. “We’re not going to panic. Ideally we want to be settled by First Kick though.”