When Major League Soccer's coaches and technical directors converge on Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this weekend for the MLS Combine, there will be one man who will be as popular as any of the players on display.
That man is Mo Johnston.
The Toronto FC director of soccer is holding some big cards in this year's draft. Not only does Toronto FC boast the No. 2 and No. 4 picks in a top-heavy draft, but the club is ready to deal both of those picks to bolster their squad with veterans. With half the teams in the league lining up to make offers for those picks, Johnson is already considering several deals that should keep him and his staff busy through the next week leading up to the MLS Draft on Jan. 15th.
So which teams just are lining up to do business with Toronto? Here are five teams sources have identified as being in the mix:
FC Dallas– The Hoops want Omar Gonzalez and are going to need the No. 2 pick to get the 6-5 Maryland centerback (especially now that Marcus Tracy is looking like a doubt to sign with MLS). Schellas Hyndman has the parts to make TFC a good offer, including Canadian defender Adrian Serioux as well as one of two first-round picks of their own.
New England– The Revs hold the No. 10 and No. 15 picks and are looking to move up. The target? With Michael Parkhurst leaving it would make sense to grab Omar Gonzalez if the Revs could, but New England is more likely to go after Toronto's No. 4 overall pick. That would mean going after highly-regarded midfielder Sam Cronin, whose stock has risen considerably in recent weeks. He could be the first senior chosen and might go in the Top Four. The Revs could also go for Maryland winger Jeremy Hall, who would slide right in as a replacement for Khano Smith.
Chicago– If the Fire is ready to part ways with Wilman Conde then it could become a player for one of Toronto's high picks. The teams discussed a trade for Conde last year before it was killed amid concerns that Toronto would turn around and deal him to the Red Bulls. This time around Chicago would probably be more willing to part with a disgruntled player in the final year of his MLS contract. Conde would step right in and anchor Toronto's defense. What would Chicago do with a high first-round pick? Omar Gonzalez would be a target, but another possibility would be UIC playmaker Baggio Husidic.
Real Salt Lake– The Western Conference finalists are looking to move up from No. 12 and Cronin is the target. RSL could also use a natural left winger like Jeremy Hall, but Cronin looks like the safer bet. What would RSL give up to move up? They have a surplus of fullbacks to deal from and could also offer allocation money. (No, Will Johnson is not on the table).
D.C. United– Currently sitting with the No. 6 and No. 7 picks, D.C. is also said to be interested in moving up to assure itself of grabbing Cronin. A play for Gonzalez might make sense for some, but I'm not convinced D.C. rates Gonzalez as highly as some other teams do. D.C. is under the least pressure to deal because it should be able to land two quality players just by standing pat.
Who do you see Toronto making deals with? Who would you like to see your team trade up to get?
Share your thoughts below.