TFC looks for help on defence as star forward Giovinco is set to be crowned MVP | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TFC looks for help on defence as star forward Giovinco is set to be crowned MVP

Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik tips away a shot during second half MLS soccer action against New York Red Bulls in Toronto on Saturday May 17, 2014. Goalkeepers Bendik and Chris Konopka are out of jobs with Toronto FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
December 01, 2015 - 2:40 PM

TORONTO - Toronto FC announced defensive changes Tuesday on the eve of celebrating yet another award for offensive dynamo Sebastian Giovinco.

Major League Soccer has scheduled a "special announcement" in Toronto for Wednesday morning, which coincides with the announcement of the MVP winner. Giovinco, Columbus Crew SC forward Kei Kamara and midfielder Benny Feilhaber of Sporting Kansas City are the finalists for the award named after retired U.S. star Landon Donovan.

Giovinco has already won the Golden Boot as the league's top scorer and was named top newcomer. The Italian international is also a finalist for MLS goal of the year.

A player from a Canadian team has never won MVP honours, although Canadian Dwayne De Rosario was the recipient in 2011, when he started the season with Toronto before being traded to the New York Red Bulls and then D.C. United.

Giovinco tied with Kamara for the league lead with 22 goals and was No. 1 in assists with 16. That meant he was directly involved in some 66 per cent of Toronto's 58 goals.

While preparing to fete Giovinco, Toronto made changes to a backline that gave up a league-worst 58 goals (along with the Chicago Fire and New York City FC).

In declining options on four players and bidding farewell to veteran forward Robbie Findley, whose hefty contract is expiring and who wants to be closer to his family in the U.S., the club freed up some US$730,000 to help bolster its defence.

The club elected not to pick up the options of goalkeepers Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka, who have alternated as starter since Julio Cesar left in 2014, as well as Brazilian defender/midfielder Jackson and 20-year-old Canadian midfielder Manny Aparicio.

That leaves goalkeepers Alex Bono and Canadian Quillan Roberts, a pair of promising 21-year-olds who have yet to see regular-season action.

"We like both of our young goalkeepers so part of it is to start to create a pathway for one if not both at some point, to make their way through," said coach Greg Vanney.

In the meantime, Vanney wants a "pure No. 1 guy that is our every-day goalkeeper."

"Obviously (this season) we bounced back and forth ... I feel like we've had a little musical chairs at goalkeeper," he said.

The club is looking for a veteran goalie both inside and outside MLS.

Bendik, Konopka, Jackson and Findley are eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Draft, with Toronto having first crack at re-signing them to a new — and lower — contract.

Findley was the biggest earner of the bunch this season at $255,500. Jackson, who found himself playing at right fullback at times due to need, earned $192,000 while Bendik made $157,375, Konopka $66,000 and Aparicio $60,000.

That adds up to a healthy chunk of the league salary cap, which was $3,490,000 in 2015. Some $1.31 million of that was tied up in Toronto's three designated players — Giovinco, forward Jozy Altidore and midfield/captain Michael Bradley.

The trio actually combined to make more than $18.3 million this season but each DP only counted $436,250 against the salary cap with clubs having the option of using allocation money to further buy down the cost against the cap.

Toronto FC picked up the contract options on Roberts, defenders Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund, Ashtone Morgan, Josh Williams, Eriq Zavaleta and Clement Simonin, midfielders Jonathan Osorio, Collen Warner, Daniel Lovitz, Marky Delgado and Chris Mannella and forward Jordan Hamilton.

Eleven players already under contract for the 2016 season are goalkeeper Bono, defenders Justin Morrow, Damien Perquis, Ahmed Kantari, midfielders Bradley, Benoit Cheyrou and Jay Chapman, and forwards Giovinco, Altidore, Luke Moore and Herculez Gomez.

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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