Toronto FC lock up Ricketts, Robinson, Dichio
The Rohan Ricketts debate was officially settled on Monday when Toronto FC announced the attacking midfielder has been re-signed to a new contract.
Financial terms were not released, but the new deal ties Ricketts to the team through the 2009 Major League Soccer season.
Toronto also officially announced Monday that midfielder Carl Robinson and forward Danny Dichio have been given contract extensions after reaching terms with both players last month.
Ricketts, 26, joined Toronto FC last April and scored four goals in 27 games during the 2008 MLS campaign.
There was speculation that the Englishman would not be brought back this season because Toronto wanted to dump his salary (he earned $212,000 US in 2008).
But Ricketts believed all along he would return to the Canadian team.
"There was never any doubt in my mind because I know where I want to be. I know the manager wants me here. It's all about sorting out the [contract terms] to make sure it's all right for everyone," Ricketts said.
Dichio, 34, is the club's all-time leading scorer with 11 goals in 32 games, and became an instant fan favourite after scoring the team's first ever goal in 2007.
Dichio missed most of last season due to a series of injuries and there is a legitimate fear amongst fans that the English forward might not last the duration of the upcoming season without getting injured to due his physical style of play.
"You always have to have that in mind [with Danny], especially because season after season it's taken a toll on him and now the pre-season is getting tougher," Toronto coach John Carver said.
Robinson, 32, was named Toronto's most valuable player for the second straight season in 2008, but revealed at the end of the year that he was considering a move back to Europe.
Robinson fielded offers from English clubs, but after talking things over with his family, the Welsh midfielder decided to sign a new two-year deal, with an option for the third season.
"I love it over here. I love the Canadian people. I love the city. I'm enjoying my time here, I'm playing well, so after talking to my family about it they were quite happy to stay. Then it was just a matter of hammering out a deal with the team," Robinson said.
'We have the nucleus of a very good team'
Carver heralded the signings of Ricketts, Dichio and Robinson as an important step in helping the club reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
"I think we have the nucleus of a very good team. We're always looking to improve and raise the bar and the guys who are here realize that there is a lot of competition for places. The fact that we have got these three guys back is very important for the club," said Carver.
There could be new players coming in as well.
Carver said that general manager Mo Johnston is still trying to work out a deal with Argentine club Independiente for 23-year-old forward Pablo Vitti, and confirmed that the team is close to trading Todd Dunivant, likely to the Los Angeles Galaxy, for allocation money
Carver also stated that he hopes to sign at least one central defender – possibly two – by the start of the regular season in March.