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MLS- Toronto FC

BREAKING-Timbers set to trade first-round pick to TFC for Johnson, Kocic

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

The Portland Timbers continue to re-shape their roster under new head coach Caleb Porter as they are ready to make another major deal to add some quality veterans to a squad with its share of young talent.

The Timbers and Toronto FC are set to complete a trade that will send Jamaican forward Ryan Johnson and Milos Kocic to Portland for the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 MLS Draft, goalkeeper Joe Bendik and allocation money, sources have confirmed to SBI. The trade is expected to be announced later today.

The trade gives the Timbers an athletic and versatile forward in Johnson, who finished 2012 with seven goals and five assists. The Jamaican international is well-suited to feature in the 4-3-3 system Portland is expected to implement under Porter. Johnson can play both as a target forward as well as a left forward.

The trade leaves Toronto FC with two of the top three picks in the 2013 MLS Draft, though sources tell SBI that Toronto is shopping the No. 1 overall pick. Louisville centerback Andrew Farrell is the consensus No. 1 pick, which has helped boost interest in acquiring the top pick.

With Farrell and U.S. Under-20 and Furman centerback Walker Zimmerman widely-regarded as the top two prospects in the draft, the N0. 3 pick is less of a sure thing, but sources tell SBI that Toronto FC is also interested in drafting Coastal Carolina striker Ashton Bennett, a speedy forward who also holds Canadian residency status. Bennett makes plenty of sense, though Toronto could be tempted to grab Zimmerman if he slips past Chivas USA, which is the real wild card in the early part of the draft.

TFC head coach Paul Mariner could choose to keep the No. 1 pick and select Farrell, an athletic, technically gifted and versatile centerback who many teams feel can step in and contribute from day one. It should be noted that the 2013 MLS Draft will be Mariner’s first in charge of Toronto’s drafting strategy. During his time as New England assistant coach, Mariner was credited with being the brains behind an impressive string of drafting success for the Revolution.

Trading the team’s first-round draft pick seems counter-intuitive for a Portland side led by a new head coach coming from the college ranks, but the lack of true pro-ready options at the top of the draft likely led Porter to decide trading the pick for a proven commodity like Johnson was more practical than keeping the pick and choosing from players such as VCU’s J.J. Johnson and Central Florida’s DeShorn Brown, two Generation adidas targets projected to go near the top of the draft.

Portland also receives a solid back-up goalkeeper in Kocic, who had some strong periods of time in goal for TFC, though he also had some shaky moments. Moving to the Timbers will reunite Kocic with Timbers goalkeeper coach Mike Toshak, who coached Kocic when he was TFC’s goalkeeper coach from 2009 to 2011.

With Stefan Frei back from knee surgery and expected to start, Kocic was deemed surplus to requirements and sent packing. That leaves Toronto with Freddy Hall as the team’s back-up, though sources tell SBI the club is working on a move to add a new back-up goalkeeper.

What do you think of the trade? Like the idea of TFC having two of the top four picks? Think Portland got enough for the No. 3 overall pick?

Share your thoughts below.

45 comments
  • Davidos

    as a neutral, I like this move for both sides . . . hopefully sures up some goal scoring/creativity for up top for Portland, esp in Porters 1st year . . . and Mariner was a party to some VERY good drafting and development in New England, Clint Dempsey and Michael Parkhurst both ring bells

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  • Thunderbear

    Portland just resigned Danny Mwanga, have 2 DP forwards in Valencia and Boyd, Dike who started at the end of last year, homegrown player Brent Richards, Mike Fucito and Sebastian Rincon on the roster.

    I don’t understand this trade from their perspective at all. Also I have no idea why they acquired a backup keeper when they have Ricketts starting, Gleeson the heir apparent and Joe Bendik as a capable backup.

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    • PDX Tom

      If you saw Gleeson play in reserve games last year you wouldn’t think he is the heir apparent anymore.

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    • Davidos

      It makes sense to think there will be more roster turnover, clearly Porter looked at the tape and the production and realized what he was going to have at his disposal was capable of 17th place and -22 goal differential . . . I think most Portland fans would welcome this move as a signal of intent to re calibrate the team? You can’t be happy with the current roster can you?

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    • Eurosnob

      Porter’s teams play possession-oriented soccer and the jury is still out on how many of the players you’ve listed are capable of playing this style.

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      • Sam

        He is an good target option as the Center Forward. I think he gets a lot of goals in this system.

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    • RAMONE

      Agree with PDX Tom. Gleason isn’t progressing and was a clear #3 behind Perkins/Rickets and #2 Bednik. 2012 was a lost year for him. He was set to be the starter for NZ in the olympics and got hurt. Took him a long time to get healed up and then got hurt again. I am not sure he ever saw the bench for the first team. Started a few reserve games in the late summer but looked reallllllly shaky (and got hurt again in one of them, luckily minor). He is going to have to suddenly improve by leaps and bounds if he is ever going to actually be an MLS starter. Because of the injuries I think the Timbers want to give that another season or two (he is cheap and a reasonable deep bench prospect) but the reality is that he has plateaued since 2010 if not regressed slightly.

      As for the forwards, yes, this is all about versatility and having Porter style players. I can’t imagine Boyd will play much into the Timbers plans next year. Whether that means sitting deep on the bench and collecting a $1.5mil paycheck for another year (until out of contract) or he is willing to look into transfers elsewhere, maybe agree to a buyout / mutual voiding of contract is really all up to Kris Boyd. If he stays, he will still play here and there, but unlike Spencer and to a lesser extent interim Wilkinson, I can’t imagine he will be the feature and will just be a cog in the machine (which if he can play that part, I have my doubts, would actually be an improvement in his chances of contributing in every way).

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  • Boston Dread

    wow, toronto trades away their best player who is young & proven for a 1st round pick…. hoping to get a young unproven player. 2013 is going to be no worse for Toronto… but with moves like this, they clearly don’t want to be any better than LAST PLACE

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      • AzTeXan

        And he’s just awful so that explains why they were the worst team in MLS. Now he he be one of the better players on the second worst team in MLS.

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      • Sam

        Johnson is far from awful. He has really progressed over the past couple of seasons. Porter is stocking up for the 4-3-3

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      • AzTeXan

        So it’s just a coincidence that he’s never been on a successful team in MLS despite being a starting forward since 2008?

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    • TFC Ajax

      Who’s TFC’s best player, Johnson?? LOL not by a long shot. We already have two DP strikers (because of Mariner’s stupidity), and Silva is also far better. If you’re referring to Kocic, well, we have Frei coming back and Kocic wants to be the #1.
      TFC probably will suck next year as well, but not because they traded either of these two players

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      • Hogatroge

        Aren’t Kocic and Frei pretty comparable in terms of skill? Also, wasn’t Kocic on a much lower salary?

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      • Ossington Mental Youth

        considerably but wanted alot more (and deserved more tbh), he was at something like 40k and wanted 100k

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    • Paul Lorinczi

      Ryan Johnson’s shot to goal ratio is turrible!

      Someone in Seattle had actually done a great job researching all the forwards in MLS last season. Ryan Johnson took more shots than Thierry Henry. His low strike ratio was a contributing factor to TFC woes.

      When Koevermans got injured – all the goals for TFC dried up. Ryan Johnson isn’t a finisher.

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  • patrick

    I really like Porter as a coaching prospect so I hope that all the wheeling and dealing he’s doing pays off and doesn’t blow up in his face. It seems like he’s making the right moves, but we’ll never really know until the dust has settled. I think he’s not even close to being done with moves and transfers.

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  • David St. Hubbins

    “johnson can play as a target forward”

    LOL no he can’t!

    Decent winger though and definitely well suited for a 4-3-3. Good pickup by Portland.

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    • Jon

      He’s big, strong, can hold the ball up and win headers. Why can’t he plays as a target man?

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      • David St. Hubbins

        b/c he can’t hold the ball up or win headers or finish. he lacks a first touch, lacks vision, makes poor decisions in tight spaces. unable to read aerial crosses or long balls well.

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  • Biagio

    TFC will miss Johson and Kocic. Kocic will be your number one keeper and a super human being.

    Like

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  • Travis

    Hasn’t this guy played for like six MLS teams by now? I feel like he has moved around a lot

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  • Rex

    Please provide 2013 or even 2012 compensation in any article like this if you want to really evaluate the trade.

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  • Tim

    The reason why Johnson has moved between 5-6 teams, is he has a HUGE attitude problem. Just watch him in a game, he gets frustrated really easily and he spends more time huffing/puffing, and bitching at the ref.

    Good riddance.

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    • David St. Hubbins

      I actually never saw him do that even once during his years in SJ. Never any hint or rumor of attitude issues.

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      • Ossington Mental Youth

        me neither here at TFC, only recently has he had a bit of an attitude and to be honest, it was a shit season so who could blame him

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  • beto

    “the lack of true pro-ready options at the top of the draft likely led Porter to decide trading the pick”…. more like the lack of Akron prospects at the top of the draft likely led Porter to …..

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    • RAMONE

      Actually, this seems like a pretty soft draft. We won’t know for sure for 2-3 years after and as always there will be a couple of good players who get taken in the top 10, but as young as Portland is, they don’t need more young project players who will spend 2-3 years on their reserves (which is what they would probably end up with), they need pieces who are ready to be MLS starters now.

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  • connr

    Johnson was far from TFC’s top player. He has talent but just can’t put it all together on a consistent basis, same reason why he was tossed aside in San Jose. I’d say TFC got the better of the deal, more upside to a high draft pick and allocation then two players who are proven backups and nothing more.

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  • Ken From Toronto

    @connr: it’s not even necessarily the upside of the pick (tho’ i think you’re on to something), it’s about the flexibility this gives Payne to shape the entire roster. they opened up a lot of space today, which was necessary…

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  • beachbum

    seems like another deal good for both sides. lots of that mutual benefit dealing going on seems to me. hopefully it’s another factor to help raise the level of the games on the field

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  • JoeW

    I think this is a very good deal for TFC. They get younger and cheaper and add decent depth (even if you consider that neither of those picks are “pro-ready”). At the same time, they’re going to have to get better by adding more talent. Kocic and Johnson (regardless of how high you value them) weren’t great players last year and they weren’t good enough to keep the team from being dreadful. Ultimately, TFC is going to get better with a significant talent upgrade (among other things) and better performance from the DPs or best players (either b/c they stay healthy or they upgrade the DPs). Johnson and Kocic weren’t going to be key factors in them being a better team. In all likelihood, Kocic would be on the bench to Frei and Johnson plays a position were TFC needs to get better play.

    As for Portland….I’d hate to consider Kocic my starting GK–he’s just too inconsistent. Johnson is a very good fit for Porter’s 433. But ultimately, Portland needs a big talent upgrade too. They’ve played a lot of kickball/direct soccer to a system that emphasizes possession. A lot of Portland’s current roster needs to turnover–they’re just a bad fit for Porter’s approach. Johnson may be a valuable piece. But I can’t see him being a critical piece.

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  • Victor

    I didn’t follow TFC much since I’m a Fire supporter but Johnson just didn’t seem very good. I think its great for TFC as if they draft that CB and he really can step in that helps out that horrible D a lot. Anyone know the other CB there besides Eckersley? Can they slot Eckersley back to RB then or are they still to thin at the CB spot?

    Like

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