Toronto FC Prez comes out swinging in defence of his big-money defender – Toronto Sun

Toronto FC defender Carlos Salcedo is all smiles in a picture released by the teams communications department.
Toronto FC defender Carlos Salcedo is all smiles in a picture released by the teams communications department. Photo by Screenshot /Twitter/TorontoFC

The Toronto FC communications department released a series of photos from training on Thursday afternoon, with the caption: ‘Sunshine state of mind’.

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One of the pics was of a smiling defender Carlos Salcedo, back training with the full team after missing the last two games while on the COVID health and safety protocol list.

However, despite the smiles and the positive messages on his Twitter account, Salcedo’s first season in Toronto has been far from a huge success and many fans are waiting for the Mexican international to show that he is a stud on the backline (as he has been advertised) and worth the Designated Player money the Reds are paying him.

In his second run in MLS, Salcedo has shown inconsistency at times and has missed four of TFC’s 11 games – missing two games after being put on the Covid health and safety protocol list, as well as a game for picking up a red card against Salt Lake City on (April 9) and a game suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee after picking up a yellow against the Red Bulls (March 5).

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That has put a strain on TFC’s often-depleted backline and has been a source of quiet frustration for coach Bob Bradley, team management and Salcedo himself. It doesn’t help that the Reds have three wins, six losses and two draws in 11 games and sit one point above the Eastern Conference basement (currently out of a playoff spot), and have lost four in a row heading into Saturday’s match against Orlando City at BMO Field. On the other hand, TFC president Bill Manning said Salcedo has done a lot of good things when he has been on the field and is a leader and popular guy in the locker room.

“He hasn’t had a good run of games. He joined us in the second half of training camp, had a good start against Dallas. We get home and he gets that (suspension), then he’s out,” said Manning. “And the way training works, Bob works with who’s going to start for that next game and so then Carlos’ is with the other unit. And then he gets back, has another decent game, then he gets the red card again. Then he’s out, comes back, doesn’t play well, and then gets Covid. He just needs a good stretch.”

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“He’s kind of all scattered right now,” Manning added in Salcedo’s defence. “He’s trying to do too much because he knows the expectations are on him. We just have to get him settled down, get a good run, 4-5 games in, and then I think you’ll start to see his qualities. If you remember back when Chris Mavinga first came in (2017), he had a really tough run of games early on and there were a lot of questions about him, and then eventually he settled in. Some of that was the transition from moving here from France and everything else and he eventually settled in and did really well for us those first three years and I think Carlos will be similar.”

Salcedo has done well in a number of defensive statistical categories: He is in the top 10 on MLS in interceptions per game (2.1) and in the top 20 in clearances per game (4.3) and long balls per game (5.3). Manning said it’s tough for a player, even a veteran like Salcedo, to transition from one league to another, never mind to a new team, particularly when the player has a lot on his plate.

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“Moving here, his wife is pregnant. Just going through all that anxiety, not having a good run of games…I think once he gets in his flow, he’s going to be fine,” said the TFC prez. “He’s a high level defender. His distribution is first class. He just needs to get in a run of games.”

Manning stressed that there is no attitude problem with Salcedo with his new team (unlike a certain TFC DP player last season who is now playing for Liga MX club Tigres UANL).

“He’s very happy. He was frustrated with the red cards and then he got Covid,” said Manning. “He’s just settling in, making sure his wife has the proper medical care as she is going through her pregnancy.

Once we kind of settle all that down, I think you’ll see he’ll get in a good place on the field. Off the field, he’s very happy. He’s a competitor though and he’s not happy he hasn’t been able to do more.”

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TFC TO FACE WANDERERS

TFC will face the HFX Wanderers’ of the Canadian Premier League in 2022 Canadian Championship quarter-finals action, to be played on May 24. The Halifax-based Wanderers defeated Guelph United in CC preliminary play.

DE ROSARIO IN HALL OF FAME

Former TFC great Dwayne de Rosario has been named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Scarborough native is a four-time MLS champion and ninth all-time leading goal scorer in MLS history

(104). He is also fourth on the TFC all-time goal scoring list (33).

SBuffery@postmedia.com

Twitter @Beezersun

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