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MLSE boss says don't judge Toronto FC yet, wait until season has run its course

04/10/2015 04:27 EDT | Updated 06/11/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - MLSE boss Tim Leiweke urged Toronto FC fans Friday to see the big picture.

The MLS team, still seeking its first playoff berth since entering the league in 2007, is 1-3-0 as it opens the season on an extended road trip due to renovations at BMO Field.

The team has suffered through injuries to its defence, including both starting centre backs, as well as two red cards and an after-the-fact suspension

"I'm very optimistic with this team," Leiweke said during a tour of the under-construction stadium. "I think we have good character and good leadership. I think Seba (Italian playmaker Sebastian Giovinco) is exactly what we thought he would be.

"I believe you judge a book when you finish it, not when you finish the first chapter. Let's wait 'til we finish this and see how they do come October."

General manager Tim Bezbatchenko also said patience was needed.

"I have a realist view which is in this league it's hard to win on the road," he said. "This league's a grind. We have officiating that is improving. But like in all leagues, you can't control it. So we don't want to use that as excuses.

"We want to have a mentality that's based on resiliency and overcoming challenges and odds and we're going through a period where we're learning to do that. I wouldn't say this is unexpected."

"What I do know is it's a long season," he added. "Six teams make the playoffs this year (in each conference) and this team and the roster we've built is one that will get better throughout the year as Greg (coach Greg Vanney) has more time with them. As they learn how to defend properly.

"Obviously we're scoring goals with the best teams in the league but we're giving up just too many goals. And in a style of play that's attacking and possession-oriented, that's in some way to be expected. But we have to better in those areas."

Toronto has three more league road games before it opens May 10 at home to the Houston Dynamo.

Toronto FC received allocation money from Vancouver on Thursday as the Whitecaps signed Uruguayan winger Cristian Techera on a season-long loan. The allocation money came Toronto's way because TFC had tried to sign him first.

According to Bezbatchenko, the right of first refusal comes into play because — due to MLS' single-entity structure — the league signs the player rather than a team.

"For a variety of reasons we were not able to sign him and now our needs have changed and are different," said Bezbatchenko. "It was an asset and Vancouver needed to sign him and they had to go through us in order to do it."

There is no time limit to holding such a right of first refusal.

In other news, Bezbatchenko says 19-year-old midfielder Manny Aparacio has been designated the team's season-long loanee to the USL's Toronto FC 2, which brings the top team's roster down to 28 players.

Toronto FC has a bye this week.

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