Toronto FC notebook: Warner and Gomez gone

Collen Warner in action for Toronto FC. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

Toronto FC trained at its Downsview facility on Wednesday ahead of their Major League Soccer regular season opener this weekend.

Here are some news and notes to come out of today’s training session.

Warner traded to Houston
With Toronto set to kick off the new campaign away to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko—who was facing a salary cap crunch—made a few moves in order to make sure his team is roster compliant.

On Wednesday afternoon, TFC announced they traded midfielder Collen Warner to the Houston Dynamo for a conditional second round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.

The departure of Warner, 27, isn’t that surprising for a number of reasons. First, Toronto has solid midfield depth, and with the off-season addition of Canadian Will Johnson, Warner wasn’t expected to be a regular starter this year, so he became expendable.

More important, Warner earned just over $157,000 US last season. His contract is now off the books, freeing up considerable salary cap space for TFC.

“With our current depth in midfield, we felt we could make a move to acquire a future asset and we’ve accomplished that with this deal,” Bezbatchenko said in a media release.

Warner scored two goals and tallied four assists in 51 appearances in all competitions since joining Toronto FC in a trade from the Montreal Impact in 2014.

Herculez Gomez gone
Another veteran who has parted ways with Toronto is Herculez Gomez.

The forward sparked speculation about his future with TFC on Tuesday when he tweeted "Thanks for the memories…" with an emoji of a Maple Leaf.

Coach Greg Vanney confirmed that Gomez is set to be placed on waivers. His departure frees up a roster spot, and possibly salary cap space, if he’s claimed off waivers by another team. He earned $261,000 US last season.

Gomez, 33, scored one goal in just seven MLS appearances (two as a starter) for TFC since joining the club last August. He arrived in Toronto after spending six seasons in Mexico where he played for Puebla, Pachuca, Tecos, Santos Laguna, Tijuana and UANL.

“With Herc, [it] was cap related. His contract was up in June... as we become compliant, we want to keep as many guys who are going to be [with] us for the long haul, and unfortunately, it just is what it is,” Vanney explained.

Expect Babouli to join the senor team
With Warner and Gomez gone, TFC now has 25 players under contract for the 2016 season, three below the roster limit. With newfound salary cap space thanks to the Warner trade, TFC is expected to sign forward Molham “Mo” Babouli to a contract.

Babouli, a 23-year-old native of Toronto, spent last year with TFC II, Toronto’s farm team in the third-tier United Soccer League. He’s been with the Reds since the start of this pre-season, and impressed in exhibition games in California and Florida, and he trained with the first team on Wednesday.

Vanney describes the Canadian as a proven goal scorer who can also create chances, and someone who has shown a willingness to work on his game.

“This pre-season for us was to see if he could understand and really commit to the team concept of both defending and attacking, and how he would fit in with the group in that aspect. He’s done an excellent job,” Vanney said.

Altidore unlikely for Sunday
Vanney confirmed that American forward Jozy Altidore is “very questionable” for Sunday’s season opener against the Red Bulls.

Altidore, 26, is dealing with a hamstring injury he picked up earlier in pre-season. He didn’t practise with TFC on Wednesday.

“We’re not going to risk him in a situation where we don’t feel he’s 100 percent ready. We want to be cautious at this point,” Vanney stated.

Other than that, Vanney said Toronto has no other injury concerns ahead of the match against New York.