No hard feelings on Robinson: Toronto FC
Club kept quiet about trade at New York's request
No disrespect intended.
That was the message from Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston on Wednesday after veteran Welsh midfielder Carl Robinson's recent departure occurred with little acknowledgement from club officials.
Reports surfaced last weekend that Robinson, a mainstay with the Canadian club since its inaugural 2007 season in Major League Soccer and twice named team MVP, was going on trial with the New York Red Bulls after being released by Toronto.
Toronto coach Preki appeared to confirm the reports earlier this week. However, a club official told CBCSports.ca on Wednesday Preki's words were taken out of context and that Robinson was in fact traded to New York.
Johnston confirmed the Welshman has been dealt to New York in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2011 MLS draft.
Johnson also explained that the move allows Toronto to free up some salary-cap space — a portion of Robinson's wages (believed to be $315,000 US) will be off TFC's books for the 2010 season, although Johnston declined to reveal the percentage.
A vocal segment of Toronto fans grew angry after learning that Robinson, one of the team's most popular players, was no longer with TFC and felt the club handled his departure poorly.
No news release
When players have previously been traded or released, Toronto has usually released a public statement about the transaction while offering words of gratitude to the player for his services and wishing him well in the future.
No such statement was made by Toronto after Preki admitted Monday that Robinson was no longer with the team. But Johnston told CBCSports.ca there was no intention to snub the midfielder, and that Toronto was asked by New York to keep quiet about the trade until it became official.
Johnston said the Red Bulls are still trying to work out problems with Robinson regarding a work visa before they officially announce the trade. Johnston said he expects the deal to be finalized and made public Wednesday or Thursday.
The Toronto GM said the decision to trade Robinson was made by Preki, who felt the Welshman became somewhat expendable after the club signed Canadian midfielder Julian de Guzman late last season. De Guzman plays the same position and is five years younger.
"Carl's moving on. He's a great soldier [who] helped us get the franchise off the ground, so best of luck to him," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the MLS team.
"But you only have so much space for so many midfielders. Julian's here and we're committed to him long-term and vice-versa, so people move on in sports and we wish [Carl] the best."
During his time in Toronto, Robinson won the admiration and respect of teammates and fans alike for his commitment, strength of character and the consistent level of his performances.
Acted as mentor
He also played a significant role in helping mentor the team's young players, including Maurice Edu (who was named the league's rookie of the year in 2007 before being sold to Scotland's Glasgow Rangers the following year) and fellow midfielder Sam Cronin.
Named the team's MVP in 2007 and 2008, Robinson scored three goals in 74 games (73 as a starter) during his three years in Toronto and was viewed as one of the team's leaders, both on the field and in the locker-room.
He will be missed by his former teammates, including Cronin, who called Robinson "a big part of the club."
"Carl was great. I enjoyed having him around. He was a true Welshman in the sense that he played hard, worked hard and liked to have a good time," Toronto defender Nick Garcia stated.
"He's a great guy and probably one of the better guys that I know who have come through TFC."
Robinson could not be reached for comment.