Toronto FC: Where tantalizing transfer news goes to die

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Earlier tonight, we posted a story about Jermaine Defoe and a potential move to Toronto FC.

I attempted to add the requisite disclaimers – this being not only an early transfer story, but an early transfer story reported in The Mirror. As an initial source, that’s a content producer’s minefield, wrought with potential wrongness; somewhere in the universe, Walter Cronkite, the news man’s news man, is weeping.

In all honesty, we could not add enough “requisite disclaimer” factor to that one. And it’s not just that The Mirror is a bit, as they might say across the Atlantic, “dodgy.”

Toronto FC has an odd history with news of splashy Designated Player signings. One could even say, BMO Field is where the tantalizing transfer story goes to die.

The two notorious cases:

Last July brough breathless reports that “Diego Forlan is coming!” Then it was “Diego Forlan is signed!” Reputable sources reported it … so it must be true, right?

Well, anybody see the Uruguayan striker on an MLS ground near you? Nope, me either. It was all a bunch of hooey.

And then there was the strange case of Swedish international Olof Mellberg. Following impressive performance in the 2012 European Championships, Toronto FC’s regime du jour went all in for the stately center back.

The truth has always been a bit elusive on this one, but MLS more or less rejected the deal. One version says MLS wrongly interfered, attempting to save Toronto from itself, and there is probably some truth to that one. TFC was about to spend lavishly for a 34-year-old center back whose primary aim by that time in the season would be keeping Toronto from the embarrassment of finishing in last place. If that sounds like good business sense to you, then perhaps you were working at MLSE at the time – because it doesn’t to many of us.

(MORE: Reports say Jermain Defoe is bound for Toronto, MLS)

Quietly, in my conversations since with MLS officers, their version of the story was more along these lines: they don’t officially “reject” deals, but they do carefully monitor for transfer deals that would set skew league precedent, agreements that would shift value in a bad way for everyone else.

Either way, no Olof Mellberg.

Again, as I said before, Tim Leiweke is in charge now at MLSE, and the head of Toronto FC’s ownership group has promised to be quite bullish on importing the right guys with the right blend of talent and marketing appeal. Jermain Defoe may just nail the sweet spot.

Then again, we are talking about Toronto FC, and history says, even more around BMO Field than at all other MLS addresses, nothing is done til it’s done.