[MLS] Upon announcing his retirement Wednesday, former Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan denied reports that a falling-out with head coach Preki prompted his decision.
Everybody here and everybody in that dressing room knows it’s a lie,” Brennan said at a news conference in response to a story in the Toronto Sun. “There was never a bust-up between me and Preki. I have respect for Preki. I know he’s going to do a great job for this club. I never said anything like that.”
Brennan will work with Director of Soccer Mo Johnston in the TFC front office.
“Certain parts of the academy, international scouting and day-to-day MLS routine stuff,” said Johnston of Brennan’s areas of responsibility. “We’ll look at game tapes. We’ll look at acquisitions of players. Jimmy carries a reputation of playing in Europe. He knows a host of agents as well. We’ll take care of some business.”
Brennan, the team’s all-time leader in appearances with 84, had signed on for the 2010 season expecting it to probably be his last. His willingness to play through the pain of significant rib and knee injuries had endeared him to fans in Toronto yet began to take its toll last season. He admitted that retirement had been discussed with team officials a few times since preseason training began, but took the field for the season opener March 27 against Columbus intending to see it through.
Yet of that game, a 2-0 defeat, he said, “It’s how the body feels. My body didn’t feel right. I played the game against Columbus. I thought I did alright. After that, I spoke to Mo and I told him that I don’t feel right. My body doesn’t feel the same and it’s time I call it a day.” He turns 33 in May and had been the team’s oldest player following the departure of midfielder Carl Robinson last month.
Brennan, the first player signed by TFC, was also its last remaining original player. In his stint with TFC he scored four goals, registered four assists, and played in the 2008 All-Star Game at BMO Field. He debuted for Canada in 1999 and represented his country 49 times. The Toronto native had joined TFC in late 2006 after playing more than 200 games in England for Nottingham Forest, Bristol City, Norwich City, Huddersfield Town (on loan) and Southampton.
The arrival of Preki has shaken up the TFC roster. Since the end of the 2009 season, TFC’s third straight failure to reach the playoffs, major names like Amado Guevara, Adrian Serioux, Marvell Wynne, Ali Gerba, Carl Robinson and Brennan have moved on. In the past two months, TFC has auditioned a fleet of trialists, including striker Paul Dickov, defenders Adrian Cann and Alessandro Zamperini and midfielder Martin Saric.
Saric has signed and made his MLS debut against Columbus. A deal with Cann, who has trained regularly with the team for the past month, has already been finalized. Preki is also interested in a few European players but may have to wait until the summer transfer window to sign them; the current domestic window closes April 15.
A new team captain will be named to replace Brennan.
One of the possibilities, holding midfielder Julian de Guzman, said, “To be a vocal guy like Jimmy isn’t easy. He’s always been supportive of us and he’s meant so much for this club. That he’s still around is huge. He’s still part of the team. He’ll still be with us every day, and that will help the guys on this team, especially the young guys. Just not on the field.”
Another candidate for captain, attacker Dwayne DeRosario, is also a local product of Ontario soccer, and has known Brennan since they were teenagers playing on provincial teams.
“It’s weird,” said DeRosario to the team’s Web site. “Now that he’s gone I’m the oldest  guy here. Jimmy’s a great guy, it’s going to be sad to see him leave this locker room. Personally, I wish him all the best."