Toronto FC must recover after Jermain Defoe scare

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There have been better weeks in the eight-year history of Toronto FC.

After a crushing Saturday defeat at home to the New England Revolution, manager Ryan Nelsen was relieved of his duties, and Monday then brought reports that star man Jermain Defoe was intent on returning to the Barclays Premier League.


Though he remains with the Reds, Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp publicly announced the England forward's wish to force a transfer to Loftus Road, while moves to Leicester City, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Sunderland were also mooted.

Any switch would have undermined the entire project at BMO Field, but it's not difficult to see why Defoe might have been tempted by the exit door.

Having featured in Roy Hodgson's Three Lions squad ten days prior to the start of the Major League Soccer season, the former Tottenham Hotspur man wasn't selected for the World Cup, despite firing three goals in his first four games in Canada.


Since then, the Ontarians have made a dart for the play-offs, but Defoe has been consigned to just two starts in the last seven weeks - a spell in which he has failed to find the net - and then saw Nelsen, who brought him to the club, dismissed on Sunday.

Rightly or wrongly, there is some evidence that featuring in the MLS has had a negative impact on the diminutive front-man's international career, and it's likely that the managerial situation at Toronto played a part in his thinking.

The Reds played hard-ball in order to keep their ace, but Redknapp suggested that a deal wasn't all too far away. It's a bullet dodged for new head coach Greg Vanney, and while the 31-year-old won't attract interest from top European clubs for much longer, every transfer window represents another test of resolve.


With the chance of collecting more national team caps quickly diminishing, it may be that fortunes on the field can convince Defoe to commit his future to the club. Regardless of his thoughts, failure to reach the MLS Cup after a huge off-season outlay would be disastrous for the franchise as a whole.

Even if the Londoner and fellow Designated Player recruit Michael Bradley are to stay in North America, there may be better offers south of the border. Toronto and Vanney must hold off the New York Red Bulls and the Philadelphia Union in the Eastern Conference play-off hunt, and then threaten the division's big boys, or run the risk of losing their two most prized assets.

Another slip-up here could lead to a succession of nervy deadline days.

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Jermain Defoe
Toronto FC

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