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Rapids hope for big Wynne at MLS Cup Add to ...

Foolhardy Toronto FC fans needing a reminder of the wasted Mo Johnston regime need only turn up to Sunday's MLS Cup final at Toronto's BMO Field.

With the Major League Soccer championship on the line, there will be numerous hints of what could have been had a more savvy judge of talent than Trader Mo been in charge of Canada's original MLS team.

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From Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey, who played a whopping two games with TFC in 2007, to FC Dallas hit man Jeff Cunningham, who built a career around scoring goals for fun right up until he was traded to TFC in 2007, the Toronto connections are plain to see in the showpiece match.

Even young Dallas duo Brek Shea, who piqued the interest of Manchester United this season, and Zach Loyd could have been turning out in the all-red strip had Johnston not traded away valuable draft picks for players no longer with the club.

But while all the above wanted out, underperformed or never even had the chance to ply their trade at BMO Field, one former Red was loving life and playing well in Toronto until he was told he was surplus to requirements.

"I would've rather stay in Toronto, but now that I'm here, I've had a great time in Denver, I love it in Denver, I love the team and we're at the Cup, so there's no complaints from me," said Colorado defender Marvell Wynne, who made 67 appearances for Toronto FC over three years.

The United States international had just put down roots in Canada, buying a property last fall and looking forward to his fourth season with the club when incoming coach Predrag (Preki) Radosavljevic decided Wynne wasn't his kind of guy, trading him to Colorado in March for Nick LaBrocca and a third-round draft pick.

"I guess we didn't see eye to eye on some things, so I've heard, but I never made it vocal or anything," Wynne explained. "He just up and traded me, said I wasn't part of his plan, whatever that plan might be."

That plan clearly didn't amount to much. While Wynne prepares to help the Rapids to their first championship, Preki, who failed to lift TFC into the playoffs for the first time, remains out of work after getting fired in September.

The move west also allowed Wynne to expand his horizons. With Kosuke Kimura, the first Japanese-born player in MLS, firmly installed at Wynne's normal right-back position, the Pittsburgh native was forced to move inside.

Though undersized for a centre back at 5 foot 9, Wynne has thrived in the role, teaming up with fellow defender Drew Moor to help Colorado establish itself as the fifth-best defensive team in the league, conceding 32 goals in 30 games.

Being blessed with lightning pace - his father Marvell Wynne was a leadoff hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs - has helped in the transition.

"I'm good at tracking the runners," Wynne said. "When they're making plays and making runs, I think I can cut them off and no one gets an easy breakaway against us."

He had best hope so. With David Ferreira, who was named the league's most valuable player Friday, pulling the strings in midfield, FC Dallas poses a stern test of Colorado's championship aspirations.

After a tumultuous year, though, Wynne is just happy to have the chance to play in the league's marquee game.

"This is the epitome of my career right now," he said. "Everybody in the MLS, this is where they want to be."

Follow on Twitter: @paulattfield

 

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