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Joao Pinto shows up but doesn't suit up for Toronto
by Ridge Mahoney, February 21st, 2008 6:45AM
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[MLS] Toronto FC wrapped up its match schedule in Florida by tying the Chicago Fire, 1-1, with a Jarrod Smith equalizer in the 78th minute, yet more intriguing to the TFC tale is a potential trialist who is apparently not on trial.

According to a source in Bradenton, former Portuguese international Joao Pinto did indeed arrive in the Sunshine State, but declined to train as requested. Pinto, accompanied by his agent, is eager to discuss a contract but supposedly unwilling to try out in order to land it.

TFC doesn't return to Canada until Friday, so it's possible Team Pinto and TFC can work out their differences while manager Mo Johnston and head coach John Carver are still in town.

Calen Carr put away a rebound in the 52nd minute for a 1-0 Fire lead. TFC got that goal back with 12 minutes left when Smith, a New Zealand product drafted out of West Virginia in the 2007 Supplemental Draft, took a pass from Tyler Hemming and drilled home a low shot.

Chicago trialists Steve Marlet, Pius Ikedia and Jesus Mendoza all played, and Mendoza nearly triggered a late winner by fighting through two defenders and pushing through a ball that Peter Lowry fed to Dwight Barnett, who fired over the crossbar. A dustup between Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Maurice Edu earned each player a caution and players from both teams scuffled on a few other occasions.

Johnston and Carver are taking a long look at trialist Kiki Musampa, who played in midfield with Collin Samuel, Ronnie O'Brien and Edu.

The Fire returned home after the match and will head down to Mexico Sunday for matches against Dorados, San Luis and Necaxa. Andy Herron, recently acquired in a trade with Columbus, will accompany the team.

Toronto will train for a few days back home, then heads to the Texas Pro Soccer Festival in San Antonio to play Chivas USA, D.C. United, and Houston.



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