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Toronto FC's Luis Silva tries to head a ball against Colorado Rapids' Tyson Wahl (R) during the first half of their MLS match in Toronto July 18, 2012.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Toronto FC had no high-profile signing to announce Tuesday, no Diego Forlan or anyone resembling the Uruguay international.

But the 2-8-7 MLS team did make a move to create some roster payroll flexibility for a new acquisition, trading attacking midfielder Luis Silva to D.C. United for allocation money.

"It's really unfortunate, Luis has been so great for Toronto FC, he's been fantastic," head coach Ryan Nelsen said Tuesday after training. "But there's an opportunity I think, and the money that we get is extremely valuable."

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Nelsen said, with new players expected to be coming Toronto's way, it was a move that was going to be made sooner or later.

D.C. United, languishing in the league basement at 2-13-4, hopes Silva can spark an offence that has scored a league-worst eight goals in 19 games.

"Luis is an exciting and creative young player with tremendous technical ability," D.C. United GM Dave Kasper said in a statement. "He has shown the capacity to manufacture and score goals."

Silva, 24, was the fourth player taken in the 2012 Major League Soccer draft. A college teammate of United's Chris Pontius at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Silva scored seven goals in 54 appearances in all competitions for Toronto.

Silva is slated to make US$105,400 this season. Adding allocation money also helps the Toronto bottom line.

"I wanted to make it a win for the player and a win for the club," Nelsen said. "It's not an easy decision by any means and I spent a long time contemplating it and thinking about it. We've got young players that have really stepped up and we didn't know that they were going to, which does help. And obviously with potential additions coming in we needed to free up some cap room to improve the squad."

With players away for international duty and with reinforcements yet to arrive, it could leave TFC a little short. The club plays at Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.

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"It's a wee bit awkward, the timing is not perfect," Nelsen said, "But we had to make a move, it was pretty much on the table, we had to do it. We might be hurting for one or two games but for the long run it will be better for the club."

Nelsen did not get into specifics on possible new players.

"Everyone is working very hard and hopefully we can get something done pretty soon with numerous players," he said.

There has been speculation that among the players Toronto is trying to bring in is Forlan. But Nelsen dodged the question.

"He's contracted with a club, isn't he down in Brazil somewhere?" Nelsen said. "He's a player who is under contract so I can't really talk about him. But he's a good player."

Forlan is playing with Internacional in Brazil and on Monday was quoted as saying that he wanted to stay with that club at least through the 2014 World Cup.

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Toronto FC striker Robert Earnshaw is in his first season with Toronto FC and the trading of Silva was a reminder of how things can be in MLS with the salary cap.

"It's tough," Earnshaw said. "This is what I'm learning about this league.

"To see a good player not with us and a friend as well, this is what the tough situation is in this league. We wish Luis all the best because he's a great player, a great kid, a great guy. His brain is right. What I mean by that is that he wants to work and he wants to be successful and he's got that drive.

"He'll be successful wherever he goes. He's very much liked in the dressing room."

Earnshaw, who missed Toronto's 3-3 draw with the Montreal Impact because of an injured calf, said he is ready to return to action Saturday.

Earnshaw has been able to resume training after resting the injury.

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"The last two days have done me very well, just fitness-wise and to get back into the swing of things," he said. "And just the pace of training, I'm looking forward to getting into the game on the weekend."

NOTES: Defender Richard Eckersley who has been out since early in the season with a hamstring injury is back training and could be ready for Saturday's game ... Striker Danny Koevermans did not training because of a calf injury ... Backup goalkeeper Stefan Frei is in California for visa reasons, according to Nelsen ... Veteran defender Danny Califf, sidelined with a back injury, is with his family in California, Nelsen said, "to re-evaluate things."

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