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Toronto FC adds international spot via allocation money trade with CF Montreal

Toronto FC acquired an international roster slot from CF Montreal on Wednesday, clearing the way for newly acquired Irish defender Kevin Long.

And there could be more moves ahead of Toronto's season opener Sunday at FC Cincinnati.

"We have a couple of moving parts here as we're hopeful to still tidy up a couple of bits and pieces prior to Matchday 1," said Toronto GM Jason Hernandez.

"I don't think it will be the last bit of business we do prior to the weekend … I would say if we were able to secure two more pieces prior to Matchday 1, I think we'd feel quite positive about that," he added.

TFC, which acquired Long this week, is sending Montreal US$50,000 in 2024 allocation money and US$125,000 in 2025.

it's been a slow rebuilding process for TFC over the off-season with just Long, Honduran international midfielder Deybi Flores and Trinidad winger/wingback Tyrese Spicer, the first overall pick in the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, joining the squad.

Toronto finished in the league basement last season at 4-20-10.

MLS teams have to be roster-compliant by 8 p.m. ET Friday, with the exception of Inter Miami and Real Salt Lake, who had to be roster-compliant Tuesday because of their season opener Wednesday. The rest of the league opens Saturday or Sunday.

Toronto can still make personnel changes after Friday, as long it remains roster-compliant. The league's primary transfer window doesn't close until April 24.

Hernandez acknowledged that the team has found it "a lot more challenging" to make the changes to the 2023 roster that are needed to facilitate additions. But he remains hopeful.

"Call it this time next week I think we'll all feel pretty positive about the work that's been done."

Hernandez pointed to several variables affecting the hunt for new talent, including the team's "new vision" under coach John Herdman.

"We certainly need to figure out who are the players that are going to move on and who are the players that are going to stick around," he said.

The team currently has three designated players in Italian stars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi and captain Jonathan Osorio. But Osorio's contract can be changed to non-DP status as needed, said Hernandez.

"What I would say is anything can happen." he added.

Under league rules, a designated player who is at least 24 years old carries a maximum salary budget charge of US$683,750 this season. Insigne's pay was US$15.4 million last season while Bernardeschi earned US$6.295 million and Osorio US$1.4 million, according to the MLS Players Association.

Allocation money can be used to "buy down" a player's salary budget charge.

The 2024 salary budget is US$5.47 million, which covers the club's senior roster of 20 players (clubs may choose to spread that salary budget across just 18 senior roster players).

Up to 20 players, occupying roster slots 1-20, count against the club's 2024 salary budget of US$5.47 million and are referred to collectively as the club's senior roster

For 2024, MLS has 233 international roster slots divided among the 29 clubs. With slots able to be traded, there is no limit on the number of international roster slots on each club's roster.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2024.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press