Toronto FC coach says Argentine forward Lucas Janson may not be back

Argentine forward Lucas Janson, who joined Toronto FC last August on loan, may not be back this season. (Mark Blinch/CP)

TORONTO — Argentine forward Lucas Janson, who joined Toronto FC last August on loan, may not be back this season.

"I would say as of today he’s not coming back," Toronto coach Greg Vanney said Thursday. "There’s still dialogue that’s going back and forth to see if there’s something that we can work out. We’ll see how it goes.

"I’d love to have him back if it works. I think he continued to get better and better as the season progressed."

The 24-year-old Janson, acquired from Argentina’s Tigre using targeted allocation money, had four goals and two assists in 11 appearances for Toronto. Two of those goals came in the season-ending 4-1 win over Atlanta United.

Toronto’s 25-man roster currently has designated players Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore plus 22-year-old Jon Bakero and 18-year-old Ayo Akinola as forwards. Jordan Hamilton was not re-signed after last season.

Asked if that was enough firepower up front, Vanney replied: "No, not really."

"We’ll continue to look during the course of this (off-season) break and have our discussions and see if there is something else that we add."

Defence not offence was the problem in 2018, he reminded reporters.

"We like the guys we have," he said of his strike force. "We want to keep the guys that we have on the field as much as possible."

Vanney said Altidore, who missed the end of last season with ankle surgery, has started running again and will be using pre-season to get his match fitness. He hopes the U.S. international will be ready to play in the first few weeks of the season.

TFC players report for medicals Jan. 14. Toronto did manage to make Brazilian wingback Auro, who also joined the team on loan last season, a permanent addition.


On the matter of the newly acquired Nick DeLeon, Vanney said he sees the former D.C. United veteran as a midfielder or winger rather than a fullback.

"He’s a guy who can cover there (at fullback) because he’s got a great energy and work rate and experience to do that," Vanney said of the 28-year-old DeLeon, a seven-year veteran acquired via the re-entry draft.

Vanney has known DeLeon since he was 16 and played for his father himself when he was 12.

Vanney says Laurent Ciman, Toronto’s other major off-season acquisition, will help organize the backline while improving distribution.

The former MLS Defender of the Year joined TFC via the allocation process after leaving France’s Dijon. Ciman previously played for Montreal and Los Angeles FC in MLS.

Drew Moor, who turns 35 this month, has been the verbal leader in the back but was restricted to just eight league appearances last season due to injury.

Ciman and Moor join Chris Mavinga, Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta as centre back options. Vanney says he would like to keep Gregory van der Wiel, who played across the backline, on the right side of the defence or higher in the midfield.

Much will depend on the team formation, with Vanney having used both three and four defenders.

In the wake of a season that saw one defender after another go down with injury, Vanney says his hope is to be able to rotate his backline to keep it fresh.

Plus he sees the 33-year-old Ciman as an important distributor of the ball.

"Laurent’s ability to pass out of the back and open the field up and spray the ball from one side to the opposite is going to possibly open up the middle of the field for us a little bit, because we can really use that as a weapon to attack on the flanks quickly."

Vanney says he has long "envied" Ciman from afar. The Belgian international, meanwhile, has made it clear he has wanted to be in Toronto for a while, according to Vanney.

Toronto FC president Bill Manning says the club is working on an affiliation deal with Ottawa Fury FC that would see the MLS team lend players to the USL side.

With Toronto FC 2 opting to move down to the USL third-tier to field a young side, Manning said the club needs a home for some of its more experienced reserves.

Manning said he worked behind the scenes to help sort out the dispute between the Fury and CONCACAF over sanctioning the Ottawa team to play in the largely American USL.

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