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Rough Workout for TFC
February 24, 2009, 10:56 PM
Filed under: MLS Preseason, Toronto FC

Late in the morning after Toronto FC’s exhibition win against the Swedish club BK Hacken, the half of the Reds’ roster that got the previous day off probably wished it hadn’t.

TFC coach John Carver splits up his team during the preseason, and those who work one day rehab the next.

The 16 players who practiced at the Sunrise Holiday Inn on Tuesday morning will certainly feel it Wednesday.

During a rugged 90-minute session, Carver put the group through the ultimate conditioning workout: eight minutes of nonstop seven-on-seven scrimmaging, where nearly anything — including goals, kicks out of bounds, salty language and even body-slams — failed to stop the action.

After eight arduous repetitions, Carver mercifully called it off. He had seen enough.

”If you’re not in shape, you get found out,” Carver said of the drill. “You can’t hide.”

In their third Major League Soccer season, the Reds are about to learn a lot about themselves. They improved by 10 points in the standings from their first year to their second, but still finished last in the East.

That won’t be nearly enough in 2009 — especially owning three of the top 13 picks in January’s SuperDraft.

In what Carver calls the best draft he’s ever seen, TFC selected Wake Forest’s Sam Cronin with the second pick overall, O’Brian White of Jamaica at No. 4 and Cal goalie Stefan Frei with the 13th selection.

While none are expected to bust out immediately, the Reds clearly know their future success is closely tied with how these three young men pan out.

”I think everyone’s excited,” said Cronin, the 2008 Hermann Trophy finalist. “We’ve got a lot of good young players here.”

Cronin played in TFC’s win over Hacken, so the midfielder didn’t have to suffer through the seven-on-seven sweat-fest.

White missed practice for a completely different reason. The UConn forward ruptured his ACL against Marquette in October and is not expected to return to the pitch before June.

That’s just fine with the Reds’ coaching staff, which would rather have White at full speed than rush him back.

”I just try to stay positive,” said White, the Big East’s offensive player of the year in 2007. “If you dwell on it, that will just get you down. I still have a way to go.”

As for Frei, he is technically not even assured of a roster spot, although teams rarely part ways with high draft picks. TFC has two other goalies — Greg Sutton and Brian Edwards — and would be hard-pressed to keep three on its 24-man roster.

”He’s putting pressure on the other two,” Carver said. “He’s not like a rookie coming in.”

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