For a player who has struggled to earn regular playing time since turning pro, Kyle Bekker firmly remains in Toronto FC’s plans for the 2015 Major League Soccer campaign.
Despite recent trade rumours swirling around the Canadian international midfielder, a source close to Bekker told Sportsnet that TFC is not actively shopping him around to other MLS teams.
Of course, as with any player, if the right trade offer comes in, things could change. But for now TFC sees Bekker—a 24-year-old native of Oakville, Ont.—as a valuable asset, and he will be back for the Reds next year.
That suits Bekker just fine, as he wants to remain in Toronto, the source said.
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Speculation has been rampant this off-season that Toronto was looking to trade away Bekker. The speculation picked up steam when the Reds protected Bekker for this past Wednesday’s MLS expansion draft featuring Orlando City SC and New York City FC.
With only 29 MLS appearances in two seasons, conventional wisdom suggested that TFC put Bekker on their protection list only because they were actively trying to trade him—if Orlando or New York selected him in the expansion draft, Toronto would lose him and only receive allocation money in return.
Currently, there are no trade deals on the table for Bekker for TFC to consider. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been trade offers for the Canadian in the past.
According to the source, at least six MLS teams—including the Montreal Impact, Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City and New York City FC—have contacted TFC in the last year about acquiring Bekker in a trade. The Reds entertained the trade offers but deals couldn’t be reached because Toronto asked “for too much in return,” the source said.
“New York was very interested in him, but they thought Toronto wanted too much allocation money in return,” the source said. “(New York coach Jason) Kreis made it clear that if he was left unprotected in the expansion draft that he was going to take Bekker.”
A product of Boston College, Bekker was the only Eagles player to start every match during his freshman year, and he earned ACC All-Freshman Team honours. He also was named to the All-ACC First Team in back-to-back seasons (2011 and 2012), and ranks second all-time in assists at Boston College.
Bekker’s stock rose after he enjoyed an impressive MLS combine and he ended up going third overall in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft. The transition from college to the pro ranks hasn’t been smooth for the Canadian, though.
He played in nine league games (three as a starter) during his rookie season in 2013. In 2014, he appeared in 20 MLS matches, earning 13 starts. He hasn’t been able to move up the depth chart with the same speed and success as fellow Canadian Jonathan Osorio.
Bekker wasn’t given much of a look by former coach Ryan Nelsen, whose counter-attacking and physical brand of soccer didn’t suit Bekker’s game.
But new manager Greg Vanney is said to be high on Bekker, and the Canadian should get more opportunities under Vanney, whose possession-style of play is more in tune with the Canadian midfielder’s strengths.