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Toronto FC Senior tryouts


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Tryout pool whittled from 300 to 40

Morgan Campbell

SPORTS reporter

At halftime of yesterday's scrimmage, coach Ruben Flores gathered his Toronto FC Academy hopefuls around him and implored them not to show off.

He repeated that the session, one of several this week at BMO Field, was about showing you can play as a team, not hogging the spotlight. Then he stared straight at the team's steadiest player, Mamadou Diarra, and spoke to him.


Diarra shook his head. Not at all.

Diarra, 17, is one of 12 players who flew over from France to participate in open tryouts for Toronto FC's youth academy and the MLS team this week.

Close to 300 players showed up at senior team tryouts on Monday, and, by yesterday, TFC staff and their guest coaches had whittled down the pool to about 40. All 11 French players made the second round of scrimmages (Diarra auditioned for the youth academy), and their agent, Chrysma Malonga, is convinced they can go even further.

Malonga, who attended last year's open tryout as a player, prowled the sidelines in a wrinkled brown suit too large for his narrow frame, shouting encouragement to his protégés. He's still learning English but has already mastered hyperbole. At least where it concerns his players.

"He is very, very great," Malonga says of Diarra. "He has technique. He's fast. Just look at him. You will be amazed."

As a squad stacked with French players ran up the score against a group of locals, head coach Mo Johnston showed up. He pointed out that the only player to survive last year's open tryout, York University's Jamaal Smith, never made the roster.

Few of the players on the field now look like they're at Smith's level. Not even the French ones, who play for third- and fourth-division teams.

Still, Johnston isn't ready to quash anyone's dreams yet.

"If someone's there and our coaches like him, there's an opportunity," Johnston said. "Is it a possibility? You never know until you see someone."

Nevertheless, Johnston said the team still needs another goalkeeper and a striker, and, wisely, Johnston is looking beyond open tryouts to find them.

Johnston confirmed that TFC has made an offer to goalkeeper Josh Wagenaar, a Canadian free agent who last played in the Netherlands.

"The offer stands and we ain't budging," Johnston said. "It's up to Josh."

Up front, Johnston used a late-round draft pick on Joseph Lapira from Notre Dame, knowing the striker was already training with a team in England, but hoping he might consider coming back to North America.

Beyond that it's vintage Johnston, hinting that he's close to signing a player or two, but giving no specifics about who or when.

If Malonga has his way, Johnston will look no further than France.

"They're here to show what they can do. They came to sign a contract," he said. "They'll make it because they're skilful."

Forgot to post the link:


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Why not? The Whitecaps already have a youngseter from the Caribbean in their residency program and I expect more non-Canadians will be added as time goes by. The club is developing players for its senior team which is staffed by the best they can find/afford irrespective of nationality except as required by MLS rules where TFC is concerned. TFC is a business first and foremost, and the vast majority of fans expect a winning team. Nationality of players is a secondary consideration.

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