Twelve games. That’s how many appearances the Moroccan international made in Major League Soccer last season after joining TFC on July 25.
The central defender’s brief tenure with the Reds was marked by uneven play and questionable decision-making on the pitch, and a string of gaffes, including in Toronto’s humiliating 3-0 playoff loss to the Montreal Impact.
Small wonder that Toronto FC placed Kantari, 30, on waivers on Wednesday morning.
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Toronto is expected to exercise its buyout option—MLS clubs are allowed to buy out one player per year and receive 100 percent salary cap relief.
In Kantari’s case, the savings would be substantial—his wages for 2015 were listed as $345,000 on the players union website. On the surface that might not sound like much, but when you consider that the salary cap for the 2016 season will be $3.66 million, that’s a lot of money off the books.
In the end, Kantari didn’t come close to providing value for his wages, and that’s why he’s gone. He also became expendable this off-season when TFC acquired veteran centre-back Drew Moor.
Toronto had high hopes for Kantari, with general manager Tim Bezbatchenko heralding the defender as “an experienced and natural leader.”
French soccer reporter Andrew Gibney offered a different view, calling Kantari “an average player.”
Lens was relegated at the end of the 2014-15 Ligue 1 campaign (and Kantari played in 31 of team’s 38 games) after finishing dead last and conceding 61 goals, tied for the fourth-worst defensive record in the French topflight.
“He’s strong and physical, but not very good. Lens were poor defensively last season and Kantari was at the heart of it. He’s never really excelled anywhere. Wouldn’t fancy him against the better, quicker teams,” Gibney told Sportsnet at the time.