Ex-TFC captain O'Dea signs with Ukrainian squad
Toronto FC captain Darren O'Dea is pictured against the L.A Galaxy during MLS action in Toronto on Saturday, March 30, 2013. (The Canadian Press/Chris Young)
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, July 18, 2013 1:37PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 18, 2013 5:02PM EDT
TORONTO -- Former Toronto FC captain Darren O'Dea has no beef with the MLS side as he begins the next chapter of his soccer career with Ukraine's Metallurg Donetsk.
O'Dea left Toronto prior to Saturday's game in Kansas City, with manager Ryan Nelsen saying the team could not renew his salary, which was listed at US$456,250 but was actually higher since allocation money was used down to pay down the salary cap cost. That made him the highest-paid player in the league, outside of designated players whose salary cap hits are just $368,750.
O'Dea has not spoken publicly of his departure other than to tweet that he was discussing terms with another team. "Not what I want! Not got a choice! I'll update you when things are clearer!"
But his agent, blaming the constraints of Twitter, says the 26-year-old Irish international is not leaving with bad feelings.
"He loved Toronto. He thought Toronto was a great place. He thought the fans were fantastic and he really liked it there," Kevin Moran said Thursday from Donetsk. "But he totally understood the club situation and he totally understood where Ryan Nelsen was coming from when they talked about not being able to renew the contract at the same terms and he would have had to take a big, big cut."
Toronto FC, which had earlier said O'Dea's deal to join a team in Ukraine was pending a medical, had no immediate comment.
Moran confirmed Thursday that O'Dea has signed a three-year deal with the Ukraine club, which is a local rival of the better-known FC Shakhtar Donetsk
O'Dea's agent praised Toronto for being up front with the defender well ahead of January when his contract was to expire. The team told O'Dea then it would not stand in his way if he found another home, Moran added.
O'Dea may not be finished with MLS, with thoughts of perhaps finishing out his playing career in North America and then going into coaching, the agent said.
"He would love no better place to go back to than Toronto, if that was feasible," Moran said. "But that's an awful long way away. That's how much he loves Toronto."
In a perfect world, O'Dea would have loved to stay in Toronto -- "on the money he was on," said Moran.
"That was not feasible. And the club had said that to him. And he could understand that. He has absolutely no grievance against the club at all in their decision-making or whatever. He totally understands where they're coming from, he totally understands the system within the MLS and how it works."
O'Dea got on well with Nelsen and the club, according to Moran.
The agent refused to say what Toronto's offer was to keep O'Dea, however, or how his deal in Ukraine compared to his MLS contract.
O'Dea is expected to make his debut Saturday against Karpaty FC.
Asked if his client was happy about the move, Moran laughed and said: "Yes, he wouldn't sign if he wasn't."
"The set-up here is fantastic, I must admit. It's a club on the rise. The training facilities are as good as I've seen, almost like in the (English) Premier League."
Moran said the Ukraine team was just one of several after O'Dea.