Toronto FC acquired Mark-Anthony Kaye on Friday, paying the Colorado Rapids a hefty price for the Canadian international midfielder.
To land Kaye, Toronto gave up teenage Canadian midfielder Ralph Priso, up to $1.05 million in general allocation funds, a 2023 international roster spot and an MLS SuperDraft first-round pick.
Colorado will receive $350,000 in allocation money in 2022 and $425,000 in 2023, plus $250,000 in allocation money for 2023 or 2024, depending on Kaye’s list status. As part of the agreement, both clubs will retain a percentage of the sale values of Kaye and Priso.
“We are very excited to add Mark to our team,” Toronto coach and athletic director Bob Bradley said in a statement. “Over the last five seasons, Mark has established himself as one of the best two-way midfielders in the league. He is a smart player who likes to be close to the ball, a good passer, ball winner, competitor and teammate.
“We wish Ralph all the best in Colorado. He is a great young man with a bright future ahead of him.”
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The deal brings the 27-year-old Kaye back to his native Toronto, where he started with the TFC academy in 2013. It also reunites him with Bradley, who had him for three and a half seasons at Los Angeles FC before selling him to Colorado on last year.
Kaye made 92 appearances for LAFC, joining the club for its inaugural 2018 season and helping the club win the Supporters’ Shield in 2019 when he was named to the league’s all-star game. Upon signing Kaye to a contract extension with LAFC in December 2018, Bradley called him a “really important player.”
Still, he sent Kaye and a 2022 first-round draft pick to Colorado in a blockbuster deal in July 2021 that gave LAFC $1 million in general allocation money and a spot on the international roster. 2022. LAFC would receive additional allocation money if Kaye achieved certain performance incentives.
The move to Colorado reunited him with Rapids head coach Robin Fraser, a former Toronto assistant under Greg Vanney.
Kaye signed a contract extension with Colorado in January that runs through 2025 with a club option for 2026.
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Kaye earns $700,000 this year, according to figures released in April by the MLS Players Association.
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In 109 MLS regular season games over five seasons, he has 13 goals and 21 assists.
A new foundation is taking shape in Toronto with a midfield trio of captain Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio and Kaye in Bob Bradley’s preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Kaye, who has made 35 caps for Canada, will provide stability alongside Michael Bradley, Bob’s son. He will also help Toronto move the ball quickly, speeding up the attack.
Italian star Lorenzo Insigne, currently sidelined with a calf injury, is expected to fill the left side of Bradley’s three-man attack with either Spanish striker Jesús Jiménez or Canadian Ayo Akinola spearheading. The Italian international Federico Bernardeschi, without a contract with Juventus, has been targeted by TFC and would occupy the right side of the attack.
There is more work to be done on defense with star center Carlos Salcedo possibly returning to Mexico for family reasons. But his compatriot Domenico Criscito adds experience and cunning, capable of playing left-back and centre-back.
Toronto sold Spanish midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo to Inter Miami CF on Thursday, opening a designated player spot for Bernardeschi.
Kaye, who spent two years at York University in Toronto before joining the TFC academy, left the Toronto system in 2015 to play for USL side Louisville City.
He has three goals and an assist in 17 games this season. .
Priso is a Canadian youth international who played at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil.
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The 19-year-old from Toronto became the 25th player in TFC history to sign with the academy’s first team, when he signed as a youth squad in October 2020.
“Ralph is one of the most talented young midfielders in MLS,” Padraig Smith, executive vice president and general manager of Colorado, said in a statement. “We are delighted to welcome him to the club and believe he can become a central midfielder for our team with his skill set.
“Mark played an important role in our team’s rise to the top of the West last season and was a model representative of our club off the court. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him all the best in this next chapter of his career.”
An excellent passer, Priso has appeared in 10 league games this season, making 33 appearances and two goals in all competitions over three seasons.
Toronto, which finished second-last in the league last year with a 6-18-10 record, has seen 21 members of last year’s first team depart.
Toronto (5-10-3) hosts the San Jose Earthquakes (4-7-6) on Saturday.
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