Toronto FC manager Bob Bradley has been talking about what the club might do with their third DP spot before the transfer window closes next month, which begs the question: do Toronto need to do anything with it right now?
The situation in Ontario isn't ideal right now. Toronto is languishing in the basement of the Eastern Conference, bottom of the table on points per game and only kept off the bottom in real terms by the fact that DC United have played two fewer games – just one point back.
How does that impact the work in the transfer market? That depends, as it often does, on the sporting project. Are Toronto in win-now mode? Does Bradley think that the summer additions of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi can push his side back up into playoff contention this season? Or is it just a matter of writing off the season and focusing on 2023?
Those are the questions that the club's decision-makers will be asking themselves as they consider whether or not to splash out on yet another high-priced star, after committing something in the region of $20m a year to their pair of Italian stars. If you're counting, that's more than almost every other team in the league's entire wage bill.
As Bradley said recently, "It’s not as simple as saying there's a DP slot open and off we go again.”
Players are certainly available now, but a lot of business in Europe isn't going to be concluded until well after the MLS transfer window ends, leaving Toronto rushing somewhat if they want to poach someone during that European summer break.
Insigne and Bernardeschi are both under contract until 2026. There is really, really no need to rush this. The idea that airdropping in three new stars for the last dozen or so games will magically transform the team is not a convincing one.
The eight-point gap to the final playoff place is tantalisingly bridgeable but, and again it's worth making the point, Toronto are really bad right now. They've picked up one point in five games, losing to good teams, losing to average teams, losing to bad teams. And they've done it all with the third worst defense in MLS – not just the East, all of MLS.
This isn't something that gets a quick fix. This isn't a case of handing out $5m a year to a defender as a panic move to make this year's playoffs. This isn't a team that should be looking for a quick fix. With two DP slots taken up until 2026, filling that third one with the right player for the long term is one of the most crucial things for Bradley to do.
If you see Toronto add a third DP before the deadline, panic. Because that's what they'll have done.