After winning the Canadian Premier League Player of the Year and Defender of the Year last month, is Daan Klomp on his way to Toronto FC?

Dutch outlet Voetbal International reports that the 25-year-old has told Cavalry FC that he would like to take the next step, and that there is plenty of interest from multiple MLS sides, including more than one Canadian MLS club.

Klomp has consistently impressed with Cavalry FC for three seasons after arriving at the CPL club in 2021. This season, Klomp played every minute for the Calgary-based club. He contributed four goals in the regular season and one goal in the semi-final. However, his value can not be understated in the defensive zone.

Klomp was a leader in central defence on a team that only conceded 27 goals in 28 regular season, the fewest in the CPL in 2023. His defensive leadership was an asset to Calvary, as he was a calming presence playing out from the back and often started offensive movements for his team. It is a bit rare for a centre-back to get so many touches in a match, but Klomp earned the confidence of his coach and teammates.

The CPL-to-MLS pipeline

Despite a short five-year existence and only eight teams, the Canadian Premier League has developed a number of players to sign with Major League Soccer clubs. In particular, a number of defensive-minded players have made the jump from the CPL to MLS. Most notably, Joel Waterman was the first defender to make the move from Calvary to MLS with CF Montréal. Waterman is now a regular starter in CFMTL’s defense, has been capped twice for Canada, and was a part of John Herdman’s World Cup squad.

Some other notable defenders to see regular minutes in MLS are Mo Farsi of the Columbus Crew (formerly of Calvary FC) and Karifa Yao with the Vancouver Whitecaps (formerly of Calvary FC on loan). 

Ex-Pacific FC defender Lukas MacNaughton signed with Toronto FC in 2022 but was shipped to Nashville SC in the trade to acquire C.J. Sapong. While MacNaughton’s time in Toronto was not perfect, he was a victim of circumstance in a bit of a panic trade by Bob Bradley to desperately find some sort of goalscoring after Adama Diomande’s injury-plagued season. MacNaughton has gone on to feature as a regular starter with Nashville.

The international problem

Daan Klomp is Dutch, which creates a bit of an issue with MLS’ convoluted International Player Rules. In essence, Klomp would have to occupy one of these spots until he’s spent a year with a Canadian MLS club — presumably Toronto FC. TFC currently has nine international players signed for 2024, which means there is no room for another international player on the roster.

However, Klomp stated in Voetbal International, “I have an advantage because I can apply for permanent resident status. This makes it interesting for clubs, because then I count as a Canadian.”

For those who are curious, the current estimated processing time for Permanent Residency Status in Canada is 68 days according to the Government of Canada’s website. Assuming Klomp has already started the process, he should be open to offers from MLS clubs when free agency opens on December 13.

The Toronto FC roster problem

Despite demonstrating a significant need for more defenders, Toronto FC currently has a bunch of money tied up in some “interesting” contracts (see Diomande, Adama) and may not have the ability to sign too many players.

To compound the problem, TFC has 22 players signed out of a maximum of 30 (and is negotiating with Aimé Mabika). While 4 players were out on loan this season (Ayo Akinola, Jordan Perruzza, Luke Singh, and Kosi Thompson), TFC still retains their rights and may not be able to shed these players from the roster. While eight potential roster spots sounds like a lot, TFC has to be careful with senior team spots, as supplemental roster spots are filled with players that are Homegrown or earning league minimum salary. Klomp will certainly not earn the league minimum if he is an option.

While Daan Klomp seems like a viable option to improve Toronto FC’s defense, TFC general manager Jason Hernandez has some work to do with the roster.

TFC need to improve at both ends of the pitch. It depends on the priorities of the new front office to see which will take precedence.