Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport
According to Opta Sports, no club has used more players the last three seasons than Toronto FC. Since 2011, 73 different players have suited up for the Reds.
After a wildly entertaining offseason, that number will grow in 2014.
Club president Tim Leiweke fulfilled the offseason promise he made to his supporters. Three highly touted designated players will be trekking BMO Field come March, chief among them being U.S. men's national team star Michael Bradley.
More on him later.
Oh, and as a Valentine's Day gift, Leiweke even threw in the starting goalkeeper for the Brazilian national team. You know, a loan just for fun. The move, according to Kurtis Larson of the Toronto Sun, raised the club's MLS Cup odds from 14/1 to 10/1.
But an overhaul of this magnitude has a cost...and we're not just talking about the bottom line.
Due to the influx of DPs, TFC are now forced to part ways with midfielder Matias Laba. The 22-year-old played in 16 matches last season, buzzing about Toronto's midfield. His 57 tackles were enough to land him in the top 15 amongst midfielders despite only playing half a season.
According to Steve Bottjer on MLS's official website, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko is keen on retaining the Argentine. But even he is aware of the difficulty to do so:
It's going to be difficult, but we're trying. We are still looking at our options between the three that we have, keeping him here, the option of trading or loaning him within the league and also options outside the league. We have been sitting down with the player to talk about what he would prefer to do because we are trying to treat our players a little bit differently than in the past, and we would like consider what their preferences are. We are hoping to have a resolution on that in the next two weeks.
Even loaning Laba has proved to be a difficult task.
The Columbus Crew were offered his services, but Gregg Berhalter showed no interest. The rookie head coach wasn't sold on Laba's ability, let alone his price tag. TFC have until March 1 to move Laba and meet the roster compliance deadline.
After that, the real fun begins: Finding the continuity necessary to clinch the first-ever playoff berth in club history.
Update: On Feb. 26, Toronto FC announced that the Vancouver Whitecaps acquired Laba via a trade with the club.