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Playoff spot is main goal for TFC
February 3, 2009, 8:30 AM
Filed under: Dwayne DeRosario, Toronto FC

Now signed to a long-term deal, Dwayne De Rosario is getting reacquainted with his hometown and even “embracing” the cold.

But don’t think he’s settling down.

“It’s not a place to get comfortable, because I’ve got a huge job ahead of myself and we’ve got a huge job ahead of us in terms of getting this team to where we want to be,” De Rosario said yesterday as Toronto FC opened training camp for its third season at BMO Field.

De Rosario, 30, acquired from the Houston Dynamo in a December trade and signed to a four-year contract, is the key off-season addition to a TFC team looking to make the playoffs for the first time.

De Rosario, who in eight Major League Soccer seasons in San Jose and Houston made it to the playoffs each year and won four championships, knows expectations are high.

“I don’t think expectation is a bad thing, (it’s) a good thing,” he told reporters before heading to the field for a workout. “If you expect to do too much in a short time you might be a little disappointed and it might set you back a little bit.

“But I think our expectations are pretty real.”

The attacking midfielder has 51 goals and 42 assists in 186 career games.

Those expectations include a playoff berth, even if De Rosario was the only one willing to come right out and say it.

Toronto, last-place finishers in the Eastern Conference in each of its two seasons, with De Rosario has added some much-needed scoring punch to a team that had the second-fewest goals of any team in the MLS last year with 34.

The team allowed 48 goals in 30 games to tie for fifth-worst in the league, and defensively gaps remain, admitted coach John Carver.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that we have to do something in our back-four,” said Carver, noting with newcomers and possible future signings there’s a chance to “freshen it up” from a group of players largely unchanged in two seasons.

“I’m not using the p-word (playoffs) but I am talking about our team improving from last season,” Carver said. “We’ve gone a long way in a short period of time.”

TFC finished 9-13-8 last season for 35 points, a 10-point increase from their inaugural year. Carver thinks a similar improvement in 2009 will secure a playoff spot.

Looking back to the start of training camp last year, Carver noted there’s “a much stronger nucleus” today, including De Rosario, midfielders Amado Guevara and Rohan Ricketts and striker Chad Barrett, who all arrived later in 2008.

“I think we’re at a much better stage than we were two seasons ago,” said striker Danny Dichio, 34, one of three players re-signed by the club yesterday.

Ricketts and midfielder Carl Robinson also signed new deals.

“We want to be more successful than we were last year,” said Robinson, 32, who was team MVP the past two seasons. “We should have been in the playoffs last year but we came with our run too late.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t do that this year, that we start positively and pick up results early in the season and maintain that throughout.”

TFC, which moves training camp to Florida later in the week, opens the season March 21 in Kansas City.

Source: Click Here

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