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Issey Nakajima-Farran's soccer journey continues with trade to Montreal

TORONTO - Issey Nakajima-Farran walked past a reporter recently, confiding with a smile that he had finally got a TV for his new apartment. The Toronto FC midfielder was looking forward to being able to watch soccer again.

The MLS newcomer was starting to put down roots in Toronto. An artist as well as a soccer player, he had deliberately chosen a slightly grittier part of town to make his home, to get a taste of the town.

The Canadian international will be looking for a new cable provider and home after being traded Friday, on his 30th birthday, to the Montreal Impact for American Collen Warner and allocation money.

The move, the first ever trade between the two teams, clearly came as a shock.

"Birthday surprise!! Wow! Just like that. It's not right. Surreal. #mlssoccer #Inhumane," Nakajima-Farran tweeted.

"Still in the dressing trying to soak it all in. My cargo box still hasn't arrived from Spain. Was ready to call this home! Life goes on." he added in another tweet before thanking the Toronto fans, players and everyone who had helped him settle.

Nakajima-Farran's last kick in a Toronto uniform was the penalty shootout winner Wednesday that sent the Reds past Vancouver into the final of the Amway Canadian Championship.

For Toronto, the deal is a chance to bolster a midfield that will be without Michael Bradley until his World Cup duties with the U.S. team are over. It also offers manager Ryan Nelsen a different piece in the midfield puzzle.

When healthy, Toronto has options on the flank in Brazil's Jackson, Alvaro Rey and Dwayne De Rosario. Nelsen also likes to use Jonathan Osorio there, allowing the creative Canadian to drift in and out.

In central midfield, the options were fewer outside of Bradley and Osorio, especially with Jeremy Hall still working his way back from injury. Canadian Kyle Bekker has shown great growth but more help was needed.

Warner is a holding midfielder who can play elsewhere along the middle.

"I've liked Collen for a long time, to tell you the truth," Nelsen said after practice Friday.

"He gives us options in that midfield that we just didn't have," he added.

Warner has 92 appearances, including 64 starts, with Montreal and Real Salt Lake since emerging from the football factory of the University of Portland.

A holding midfielder, the 25-year-old has started all nine of Montreal's MLS games this season but was sent off for handball last time out in a 3-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

Nakajima-Farran has two goals in five games since signing with Toronto, second only to Jerman Defoe's three. He had been with the team since training camp but did not sign until late March.

"I feel sorry for Issey," Nelsen said. "Because since we brought him in, he's done nothing wrong. He's such a great guy and he's done really well.

"But unfortunately when we have all our players back, it probably would have been hard to see him starting on the team. Where with Collen, he'll start. He's a starting player .... He's a guy we targeted and I'm glad he's going to be walking in the door."

Nakajima-Farran will offer Montreal some creativity and flair in the attacking half of the park. But with seven goals for and 17 against, the Impact needs help at both ends.

Toronto FC captain Steven Caldwell was sorry to see Nakajima-Farran go.

"It's horrible and that's just the game we play, especially in this (MLS) environment with the trading and different things that go on," said the Scot, no fan of the trades allowed in the North American league. "We wish him all the best. He was an important member of our squad. We enjoyed his play and his company and everything about him. A fantastic lad.

"But decisions are made and we move forward. We're getting an excellent player coming in. Issey's going to a great football club as well. Hopefully everyone benefits from it."

Born in Calgary to a Japanese mother and a British-Canadian father (who was born in Rhodesia), Nakajima-Farran moved to Tokyo when he was three and London when he was 10. He spent his teenage years in the British capital, playing in the Crystal Palace youth system before heading to Japan to begin his pro soccer career. He went on to play in Singapore, Denmark, Australia and Cyprus.

"He is a player whose qualities will fit well within our group and style of play," Impact head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. "We feel his experience with both the national team and abroad will benefit our team."

Impact owner Joey Saputo has promised changes to his 1-5-3 team. The allocation money obtained in Friday's deal may help that cause.

Nakajima-Farran's salary is listed at US$110,000 by the MLS Players Union, compared to US$143,000 for Warner.

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