Toronto FC release goalkeeper Greg Sutton

Toronto FC bid farewell to one of its original players on Tuesday, releasing veteran goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

Move clears salary cap space, roster room for MLS team

Toronto FC bid farewell to one of its original players on Tuesday, releasing veteran goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

Toronto also made a trade with the San Jose Earthquakes, acquiring American defender Nick Garcia and the rights to Canadian forward Ali Gerba. In exchange, San Jose received Toronto's third-round selection in the 2010 Major League Soccer draft.

Sutton, a 32-year old native of Hamilton, was told by Toronto general manager Mo Johnston of his release after Tuesday's practice, thus making room on the roster for Garcia.

Sutton appears to be the victim of the numbers game, as he said Johnston is looking to make other roster moves, but needed to clear some salary cap space and free the club of his guaranteed contract. Sutton was set to earn $165,000 US this season.

"Mo had limited options and because I'm on a guaranteed contract, I think it wasn't as easy to [trade] me as it was other guys he might have wanted to move. I was the last resort to free up some money for him," Sutton told CBCSports.ca.

Supplanted by Frei

Sutton joined Toronto FC prior to the 2007 season, the club's first in MLS, and served as the team's No. 1 goalkeeper before being supplanted by rookie Stefan Frei at the beginning of the current campaign.

Toronto FC selected Frei, a product of the University of California at Berkeley, with the 13th pick in the first round of the 2009 MLS draft. The Swiss-born rookie impressed the Toronto coaching staff in training camp, so much so that he won the starting goalkeeper's job and was between the posts for the club's first game of the regular season.

Since then, Frei has firmly established himself as Toronto's No. 1 goalkeeper, winning plaudits for his solid and mature play and is an early candidate to win the league's rookie of the year award at the end of the MLS campaign.

Relegated to the role of backup, Sutton admitted his release did not come as a complete shock.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't too surprised because I've been put on the back burner this season," Sutton said. "But I still thought it wasn't fair, in a sense, in that I didn't really have an opportunity this season at all."

Although disappointed, Sutton stated he wasn't bitter.

"I could be bitter about it, but I don't think that's going to do any good for me. I'm not the kind of guy who's going to go and say things that are going to cause controversy. I'm not going to stoop to that level," said Sutton.

Born in Hamilton, Sutton described Toronto as his "home," and said he wouldn't be surprised if his future career path "leads me back to this city."

In the meantime, Sutton's MLS future remains in the air, as he has been placed on the waiver wire and has to wait and see if another team scoops him up before he can become a free agent.

"I'll see if there are other MLS teams interested in picking me up and then we'll go from there," Sutton said.

Garcia adds experience

Johnston hopes the addition of Garcia, a veteran of 10 MLS seasons and one of the league's most experienced defenders, will help bolster the team's struggling defence. Toronto has conceded 21 goals this season, the third-worst defensive record in the 15-team league.

"We are very happy to bring in a defender with Nick's experience," Johnston said. "We tried to bring him in before and finally we were able to get a deal done. He plays 90 minutes every game, he's quick and he knows this league inside and out."

Gerba, 27, was recently let go by English club MK Dons and is currently a free agent.

"On Ali Gerba, he's another one that's been on our radar, and we look forward to sitting down with him and getting a contract signed as soon as we can," Johnston said.