KISSIMMEE, Fla. – While his Toronto FC teammates continued building up to March 2, Danny Koevermans spent Friday's training session jogging and chipping ball after ball off the crossbar.
And while fellow Designated Player Torsten Frings got the rumor mill churning by jumping on an early morning flight back to Ontario to deal with a "personal situation," director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane made it clear that the club expects Koevermans to be around in June, a prospect called into doubt when president and GM Kevin Payne admitted buying out the forward's contract was an option.
“We’re not talking about those things [with Danny] at all,” Cochrane said.
However, Toronto are exploring ways to conjure up some salary cap relief to provide some wiggle room as Payne continues to put his own stamp on the roster, which still has room to grow.
“I can tell you, generally, that we always consider cap and salary and budget and how it’s going to fit," Cochrane said. "In a big picture, yeah – we’re thinking about how we restructure certain things, but I can’t get into the specifics of who and what and how.”
He also said the club expects a few of the players in camp yet to sign contracts to come on board before the season opener on March 2 against Vancouver. With Koevermans out until the summer and Ryan Johnson now in Portland, Toronto are also in serious need of an injection of attacking talent.
Assistant coach Fran O'Leary revealed head coach Ryan Nelsen is in England to speak to players as well as transition his life from London to Toronto. O'Leary didn't name names, but Cochrane confirmed the lines of communication are open with several targets.
“We’ve got a handful of open roster spots that we’re looking to fill, clearly. Some of those spots will be attack-minded guys," Cochrane said. "We’re down the road with a few conversations with a handful of guys. We’re looking to wrap those up hopefully sooner rather than later. As you know, they can go north or they can go south or sideways pretty quickly. I can’t go into specifics on who or what or how, but we’re hoping some dominos fall pretty quickly.”
One player already in camp is Darel Russell, a former Portsmouth, Stoke City and Norwich City midfielder who is training with the team and is expected to see time against Philadelphia on Saturday (3 pm ET, live stream on MLSsoccer.com).
“Darel’s just come by. He was in the area," O'Leary said. "He’s got a good playing resume and he’s in the area, so we’ve taken him in for a few days. We’ll get a good look at him. It’s just too early to say at this stage whether it will go beyond a trial.”