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Thursday, October 11, 2012

DP or not DP, that is the question…

"You stayin'?" "Dunno. You stayin'?"

Most football minds in these parts have wandered from the never-ending drama that is Toronto FC and on to the international break. However, a couple of ex-internationals who have made returns to Toronto managed to catch some local attention. TFC's two high-profile Designated Players, Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings, have both now returned from foreign operations to continue their lengthy re-hab with The Reds’ staff. Koevermans returned earlier last month while his German counterpart joined him at the club this past week.
Some TFC supporters, desperate for a crumb of good news in an abysmal season, took some solace from the news. While Koevermans, who has been back in Toronto for a while, is missed by many – equal numbers had guessed that Torsten Frings would never be seen around these parts again. With his future sights set on coaching duties at Werder Bremen, many surmised that the soon-to-be 36-year old German would call a day on his playing career. The question is - regarding both Frings and Koevermans - would this necessarily be a bad thing for the club?
As a gentleman who sits behind us at BMO Field opined early in the 2012 season: "Frings ain't what they used to be"... and this is certainly true. That being said he is still superior in football pedigree to most in MLS but his body is breaking down after an 18 year professional career. His return to the club at this time is an example of what a solid professional Frings is. He easily could have stayed in Germany over the winter and few would have been surprised but his responsibility to the club he captains seemingly brought him back. Make no mistake, that kind of leadership and experience is invaluable and would be near impossible for TFC to replace - this of course assuming Frings' head is in the right place. Surely the constant losing at TFC is not the way he saw his playing career ending. The rub is that the defensive midfield position in MLS is one that you can fill with a useful player for much less salary than Frings makes thus opening funds to be used to fill the many glaring holes that TFC has.
Danny Koevermans is a player that has different pros and cons to Frings. The big Dutchman has an MLS strike-rate that is quite phenomenal but one that comes at a price. Even going back to his days in the Eredivisie, Koef has been injury-prone and this has continued at TFC. The further worry about Koevermans is his training rate. Even at full health, many were shocked at the shape that Koevermans arrived in after this past off-season as we waited until late-May for him to be at "full fitness". Of course when firing on all cylinders he is the poacher that TFC has been seeking since 2007 and as we all know - they seem few and far between in Toronto. Coming off of a severe ACL injury and heading towards 34-years of age, Koevermans is going to have to put in yeoman's work to return. Even at best however, the earliest we may see Koef "firing on all cylinders" again is summer 2013. Is that too big a "what if" to wait for and does it give The Reds another built-in excuse for a slow start up front?
Of course considering the departure of these two players is far from black and white and is based only on possibilities that they would be willing to cut short the remaining year of their lucrative contracts. Frings, with his future seemingly promised at Werder Bremen may be more likely to accept a jump but that is admittedly an assumption. Koevermans is likely on his final stop as a well-paid striker and may want to stick around to see if his career could continue after this current deal ends. However, TFC has shown that it is willing to push out contracts it no longer wants, whether through under-handed means or not. No contract is written in stone at BMO Field.
TFC will not be winning a thing in MLS next year with the glorious goal set at grabbing the last wildcard playoff spot and proclaiming a great victory for all mankind. In this likely future, is it worth devoting such a large portion of the salary cap to two players well past their prime and with no long-term future at TFC? We won't even include Eric Hassli in this conversation as a DP return for him is hopefully unfathomable. Wouldn’t a club trying to build a secure future want to cut their losses and collect solid pieces to use two and three years down the line?

This of course becomes a sticky issue when you retain the management team of Paul Mariner and Earl Cochrane with a "squeak into the playoffs this year or bust" ultimatum. Why should they look to the future when their jobs are seemingly safer with a brief cameo in the playoffs in 2013? As supporters who will still be here long after Frings and Koevermans (and seemingly Mariner and Cochrane) - would you stick with the veterans to their end - or, if you could - would you wish them a fond farewell and forego a chance at a wildcard playoff spot in the hope of better long term development? The time to decide is now.


  1. Remind me again, does KC have a DP?

    1. You just Alex Trebeked the hell out of this thing :D

      Apparently their stadium has this thing called a roof though!