Toronto FC striker Eric Hassli appears en route to Dallas.
FC Dallas used its official Twitter feed Friday to say it is in talks with Toronto FC “and close to finalizing a deal to bring Eric Hassli to Dallas.”
Toronto FC declined comment on the tweet.
But the move make sense for several reasons.
Dallas lost 22-year-old attacking midfielder Brek Shea to English Premier League side Stoke City this week for a reported 2.5 million pounds (C$3.9 million).
And Toronto FC has talked about ways to ease a salary cap crunch that sees Hassli and fellow designated players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans, along with defenders Darren O’Dea and Richard Eckersley, accounting for a large chunk of its salary cap.
“It’s hard to have the percentage of your cap tied up in five players that we had and still put an effective team on the field,” Toronto president and GM Kevin Payne told reporters Thursday.
Payne said buying out a player contract was one possibility to ease the salary cap pressures.
Hassli made US$790,000 last season, of which $350,000 counted against the salary cap by virtue of his designated player status.
The 31-year-old Frenchman joined Toronto from Vancouver last July after Koevermans tore up his knee. But injuries restricted the tattooed striker to just seven games in Toronto.
He ended the season with three goals for Toronto and two for Vancouver, for whom he saw action in 18 games. Hassli scored 10 goals in 26 games for Vancouver in 2011, his first in MLS.
Hassli’s contract was renewed by Paul Mariner in November, just days before the former England international was fired as Toronto’s coach and director of player development.
Hassli, who was a Mariner fan, reportedly wanted out of Toronto after the coaching change. But Hassli disputed that when he reported to camp and Payne, who was hired after the new Hassli contract was sealed, said Thursday that the Frenchman was not making waves.
“He’s been a good soldier since he’s been here this week and he’s working hard,” Payne said. “We all know he’s got quality, when he’s healthy. So the jury’s out on Eric, too.”
Toronto has sent a designated played to Dallas before. TFC shipped Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman to the Texas club last July for forward Andrew Wiedeman.
Should Toronto secure the league approval needed to move Hassli, a buyout of another big-ticket player could still happen.
The 36-year-old Frings is coming back from hip surgery. Payne has said the former German World Cup veteran is fit and wants to end his career on a high, rather than the injury-plagued slide that was Toronto FC’s 2012 season.
But Payne said the club wanted to see how Frings performed at training camp, to review his comeback from surgery.