Fresh from a trip to England and Italy in search of marquee talent, Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen says his MLS club is feeling optimistic about the future.
Nelsen was accompanied overseas by general manager Tim Bezbatchenko and Tim Leiweke, the president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.
“We talked to a number of players, a number of friends,” Nelsen said after practice Wednesday. “Hopefully we can get something done as soon as possible.
“But I know — having been in the middle of this myself before — it does take time. But it was a really productive trip. That’s all I can really say.
“Let’s just say I came back very excited.”
Leiweke has said that the club hopes to sign two designated player strikers in the January transfer window.
While Nelsen did not detail his itinerary, his travels took him to his former club Tottenham where talented striker Emmanuel Adebayor has been surplus to requirements this season. But the 29-year-old Togo international reportedly makes north of 125,000 pounds a week (C$210,000 or close to $11 million a year). That’s rich — for MLS and MLSE.
Former French international Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls leads the league salary table at $4.35-million, according to figures released by the MLS Players Union.
Adebayor, who once cost Manchester City 25 million pounds ($42-million), may also not tick off all the boxes expected of a DP by Leiweke.
Toronto’s immediate future, however, is its regular-season finale Saturday against a motivated Montreal Impact team.
The visiting Impact (14-12-7) currently stand third in the East with 49 points. A win over Toronto (5-17-11) and Montreal automatically qualifies for the playoffs.
New York and Sporting Kansas City have already earned two of the five playoff berths in the East. That leaves Chicago (49 points), Houston (48), New England (48) and Philadelphia (46) chasing Montreal.
If Montreal ties or loses to Toronto, it will need help from its rivals in a convoluted playoff scenario further complicated by the Impact’s 1-5-1 record in recent weeks.
Should the Impact fail to win Saturday, it will have to wait on its fate until Chicago, Houston and New England play Sunday.
Montreal has never won at BMO Field since entering the MLS, with an 0-2-2 record in all competitions.
In the clubs’ previous meetings this season, the Impact won 2-1 in Montreal on March 16 and there was a 3-3 draw in Toronto on July 3.
NOTES — Toronto striker Justin Braun trained separately after taking a knock in a reserve game. Midfielder Darel Russell continues to nurse a muscle strain. On the plus side, Bobby Convey is back training and fellow midfielder Jeremy Hall is back from suspension.Report Typo/Error