Cellar-dwelling Toronto FC begins roster overhaul under head coach John Herdman

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Toronto FC began its roster overhaul under new coach John Herdman on Thursday, declining options of goalkeepers Greg Ranjitsingh and Tomas Romero, defender Themi Antonoglou, midfielder Victor Vazquez and forward CJ Sapong.

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Defender Cristian Gutierrez is out of contract at the end of the year. And the club has already returned midfielder Franco Ibarra, whose loan from Atlanta expires at the end of the year.

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Longtime captain Michael Bradley has already left, starting a coaching career in Norway after 10 seasons in TFC colours.

The struggling MLS club, which finished last in the league at 4-20-10, says it is still in discussion with centre back Aime Mabika, on whom it has a 2024 contract option.

Midfielder Kosi Thompson is on loan with Lillestrøm SK until the end of the 2023 season, with the Norwegian club having the option to make the transfer permanent for 2024.

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Toronto has exercised the contract options on goalkeeper Luka Gavran and midfielder Alonso Coello, two of the few success stories from the dismal season.

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The 23-year-old Gavran, a six-foot-six rookie who was taken in the second round (31st overall) of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, impressed in starting four of Toronto’s last five games. Interim head coach Terry Dunfield gave Gavran his chance with No. 1 Sean Johnson recovering from hand surgery.

Coello, a 24-year-old Spaniard, made 21 league appearances including 13 starts in his rookie season. And it would have been more had it not been for injury.

Cool on the ball, Coello took over the defensive midfield role long held by Bradley, with the skipper moving into the backline for the final games of the season.

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The remaining players are contractually guaranteed for the 2024 season. That doesn’t mean they will be back, with transfers or trades a possibility.

Question marks remain over the future of high-priced Italians Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi, although their contracts will be hard to move.

The 36-year-old Vazquez, in his second stint at the club, saw action in just 12 league games this season.

The 34-year-old Sapong had no goals in eight appearances since coming over in an April trade that sent defender Lukas MacNaughton and up to US$200,000 in general allocation money to Nashville SC.

Toronto FC’s Current 2024 Roster:

Goalkeepers (2): Luka Gavran, Sean Johnson.

Defenders (5): Kobe Franklin, Shane O’Neill, Raoul Petretta, Sigurd Rosted and Luke Singh.

Midfielders (4): Alonso Coello, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jonathan Osorio, and Brandon Servania.

Forwards (9): Ayo Akinola, Federico Bernardeschi, Adama Diomande, Lorenzo Insigne, Deandre Kerr, Cassius Mailula, Hugo Mbongue, Prince Owusu and Jordan Perruzza.

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