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TFC heads to Sunshine State
February 5, 2009, 9:42 PM
Filed under: MLS Preseason, O'Brian White, Toronto FC

With the temperature hovering around -13 in Toronto Thursday, it was the perfect time for Toronto FC to head south.

After the team officially opened training camp earlier this week with players reporting for medicals and fitness testing, the Major League Soccer club will fly to Florida on Friday for a week-long training camp that will include playing a pair of exhibition games against the Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls.

“I’m looking forward to getting in a different climate, taking in a bit of sunshine because I miss the sun,” Toronto coach John Carver joked with reporters on Thursday.

The Florida trip will be Carver’s first opportunity to see several of the team’s new players up close, including Dwayne De Rosario (the club’s major off-season signing), and top draft picks such as goalkeeper Stefan Frei, midfielder Sam Cronin and forward Kyle Hall.

“It’s a chance for me to see the new guys. I know all about Dwayne, but I want to see him play in a Toronto shirt, and see Stefan, and Sam and Kyle Hall, because he’s caught my eye since camp started,” stated Carver.

“It’ll be a chance to evaluate the new guys, but also to see how far we are with regards to the players’ fitness levels.”

Forward O’Brian White, the No. 4 overall pick in January’s draft, will meet up with the team for the first time in Florida. White won the Hermann Trophy in 2007 as the top college player in the U.S., but he missed most of last season because of a knee injury.

Carver wouldn’t say when White would be cleared to play.

“He has a meeting with a specialist on Feb. 9 and then he’s meeting up with us in Florida,” Carver said. “I think it’s important he comes in to meet the guys and takes part in team bonding. He’s starting his rehab program once our medical team have assessed and had a look at him.”

The Toronto coach revealed that he plans to experiment with several formations and lineups in the pre-season, and that he’s more concerned with how the team gels and plays together, as opposed to winning games.

“When you talk about pre-season, this is something I can play around with because nothing is at stake really, so I can mess around with formations and play different ways,” Carver explained.

“Sometimes things hit you in the face by accident … unless you try things you never know. When you have a situation like pre-season, you can try different things. I’m not really interested in results in pre-season.”

That said, Carver did admit he’s looking forward to March when the team participates in the Charleston Cup, a four-team competition staged in South Carolina. Last year, Carver’s Toronto side finished with a record of 0-2-1 in the tournament, as the San Jose Earthquakes took the title.

“I must admit when we get to Charleston, I want to put the record straight after what happened last year because that wasn’t good enough,” stated Carver. “Because it is a competition, I want to go down there and I want to win it, because it [gives us] confidence leading up to that first game of the regular season.”

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