Collen Warner
USA Today Sports

Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen delighted to add "starting player" in midfielder Collen Warner

TORONTO – Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact made waves in the first trade between the two teams in Major League Soccer on Friday morning, with Montreal sending Collen Warner to Toronto in exchange for Canadian winger Issey Nakajima-Farran and allocation money.

Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen addressed the trade during a training session on Friday, saying that Warner gives him a valuable piece in midfield, especially since Michael Bradley will be away with the United States national team for the FIFA World Cup.

“I’ve liked Collen for a long time to tell you the truth,” Nelsen said. “He’s been in this league a good number of years now, he’s kept up a lot of games and he’s a natural sitting midfielder who can play out wide as well. He adds a nice balance in there and he gives us options in that midfield that we just didn’t have.”

The trade was not received well by fans in Toronto who felt that the club traded away a valuable asset. Nakajima-Farran is Toronto’s second-highest goal scorer so far this season but Nelsen says the trade is a matter of prioritizing his team’s needs on the field.

“I feel sorry for Issey because we brought him in and he’s done nothing wrong,” Nelsen said. “Unfortunately, when we have all our players back, it would be hard to see him starting on the team whereas with Collen, he’ll start. He’s a starting player and he hasn’t even come to his peak in age. He’s a guy that we targeted and glad he’s going to be walking through the door.”

The acquisition of Warner seems to have in mind Bradley’s attacking tendencies. Nelsen has recently moved central midfielder Jonathan Osorio out wide on the left, giving his team another option on the wing. In Warner, Nelsen adds a defensive-minded midfielder, perhaps allowing Bradley an easier opportunity to move forward and join the attack.

Nelsen and the club also carefully planned the trade out.

“We’ve been after Collen Warner for a long time,” Nelsen said. “Montreal, that’s the player they wanted and [Nakajima-Farran] is, as I said, not a starting player for us when everybody’s fit. Warner’s a guy we’ve been after for a long time. In terms of planning this, we planned it for ages.”

“We feel like we’ve got a very good deal out of this,” Nelsen added.

And with the loss of a wide player in Nakajima-Farran, social media circles in Toronto once more began buzzing with the name Brek Shea. The US international, a left winger who is rumored to be on his way back to MLS, seems a good fit for TFC considering they sit No. 1 in the allocation order for returning MLS players.

However, Nelsen put a hush to those rumors for the time being, saying Shea is, “not my player so I can’t really talk about other teams’ players,” but adding, “every team in the MLS would like a player like Brek.”

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