Forget about foreshadowing or subtle innuendo — Aron Winter laid his feelings out in blunt and brutal fashion.
"I'm going to trade for players," TFC's head coach and technical director said after the team's 2-0 road loss to the Houston Dynamo last weekend.
So it came to pass on Thursday as Winter made two moves, including acquiring midfielder Terry Dunfield from the Vancouver Whitecaps for allocation money and future considerations.
Winter's other deal saw defender Nana Attakora, midfielder Jacob Peterson and forward Alan Gordon shipped to the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for forward Ryan Johnson, allocation money and an international roster spot.
Despite Winter's public proclamation, Peterson did not see this coming, saying he was caught off-guard when the club informed him he had been traded.
"I was surprised," Peterson told CBCSports.ca. "I knew Aron made those comments about trading players after the last game, but for someone who when healthy I was starting every game, I didn't think too much of it with regards to my personal situation."
Peterson, a 25-year-old native of Michigan, joined Toronto in January 2010 via a trade with the Colorado Rapids. A regular starter under Winter this season when he wasn't nursing a hamstring injury, he leaves town having scored one goal in 37 Major League Soccer matches for TFC.
Toronto, with a 3-9-9 record, currently sits in second-last place in the Eastern Conference. With one win in their last 12 matches, the Reds are in serious danger of missing out on a playoff berth for a fifth consecutive season.
But even though the team is going through a rough patch, Peterson maintains he is sad to be leaving Toronto.
"It's bittersweet," he said. "Obviously we had some turbulent times, especially the last couple of weeks. Things weren't going well; I don't think that's a big secret. We were struggling with results on the field, but I got along well with guys on the team and I was happy here."
Part of the problem for the club this season has been a change in tactics by Winter, installed as the team's new coach in January, and his assistant, fellow Dutchman Bob de Klerk.
According to Peterson, TFC players have had trouble adapting from the physical brand of soccer more common in MLS to the more technical and possession-based game preached by Winter. And while Peterson applauds the Dutch duo's stance to remain the tactical course, he does believe it will come at a cost of the Reds failing to qualify for the playoffs in 2011.
"Obviously it wasn't working at certain points this season, but that's their system, and they are building for the future," stated Peterson. "I know they'll never admit it, and that's not saying they're wasting away the season, but they know what their long-term goal is, and they are going to build towards that."
As for his new team, Peterson is looking forward to moving to California and playing alongside Sam Cronin, a former TFC midfielder who was traded to San Jose last summer.
"I thought Sam was a great player who they should have held on to. That seems to be a common theme with Toronto," Peterson said. "You see what Nick LaBrocca is doing this year and other payers around the league recently traded by Toronto. It makes you stop and think."
On that same topic, Peterson said he's more than a little confused as to why TFC traded Gordon and Attakora, believing them to be key assets that the team should have kept.
"I think Alan did extremely well when he played, and Nana, we all know he fell out with the coach this year, but he's got all the talent in the world. He's a strong guy and reads the game fairly well, and I think he has an extremely bright future," said Peterson.