Toronto FC general manager Mo Johnston told CBCSports.ca Monday evening that the club has sent Canadian forward Ali Gerba home from pre-season training in South Carolina.
"He’s worked hard but his play was not up to scratch," Johnston said.
Johnston said Gerba has not been released by the team, but that the coaching staff felt it was necessary to send him back to Toronto because he wasn’t "up to scratch" in TFC’s pre-season thus far.
The club is currently in South Carolina where it is competing in the Carolina Cup Challenge, a four-team exhibition tournament featuring the Charleston Battery, Real Salt Lake and D.C. United.
Johnston stressed that Gerba has not been let go by the club.
"He’s on a guaranteed contract.... He’s still with us," the Toronto GM said.
Johnston would not say how, if at all, this incident would affect Gerba’s standing with the team for the upcoming MLS season.
Gerba, 27, signed with Toronto last June after being released by English club Milton Keynes Dons.
Toronto FC acquired his Major League Soccer rights as part of a trade earlier that month that brought defender Nick Garcia over from the San Jose Earthquakes.
It was hoped that Gerba, who was born in Cameroon and later moved to Montreal, would bolster Toronto’s offence, giving the team a legitimate goal-scoring threat up front.
But it didn’t work out that way.
Gerba appeared to be overweight and out of shape when he arrived in Toronto. He scored one goal in 11 regular season games (five as a starter) last season and routinely sat on the bench as rookie forward O’Brian White took his place in the starting lineup.
Toronto battled to a 0-0 draw with Charleston last Saturday in its opening game of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Gerba started the game for Toronto before being substituted by White early in the second half.
The Reds wrap up play at the pre-season tournament with games against D.C. United (March 17), and Real Salt Lake (March 20).
Toronto begins the 2010 MLS regular season on the road, against the Columbus Crew on March 27.