You all know the big news by now, Toronto FC just jumped off the highest diving board they can find in order to make a big splash when the transfer window officially opens on July 15th. Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans joined TFC on multi year designated player contracts, and while MLS history shows there's no guarantees around DPs, this will hopefully be the start of something good, two huge building blocks in the so far very sketchily built foundations of Aron Winter's TFC.
The key word in all that is 'hopefully'. The TFC experience seems to be one big ride, call it a roller coaster, a helter skelter, whatever, between hope and despair, that never actually manages to stop at any real tangible achievement. Whenever things seem to be getting too bad, when fans are staring to tune out, attendance, atmosphere and tv ratings are down, or supporters groups are getting testy, that's when MLSE will make sure that something happens. That's the position we all found ourselves in recently, and lo and behold, over two weeks before the transfer window opens, and they can actually play, the signings are announced, and we're back at hope.
That's the cynical view, but really MLSE and TFC management should be commended for going out there and putting their money on the line to bring in a couple of players who have a good chance of being more than just big name grumpy fan appeasers.
Frings is a defensive midfielder and the main thing he'll bring is his experience and leadership, which is something Aron Winter referred to often in the introductory press conference. His experience with Werder Bremen, as captain, and Germany should make him a natural role model and teacher to the younger players in the squad. As for on the pitch, well at 34 years old, a multi year contract (exact terms weren't released) is a big risk. It's still very unlikely that TFC will be getting anywhere near the playoffs this year, will he still be around when the rebuild finally comes to fruition? Never mind the future, how will he be able to handle the more physical MLS and the relative lack of skill around him?.
That last point is basically what's bought up by apologists of Julian De Guzman, trying to explain why it really hasn't worked out for him, and that neatly and conveniently brings us to the big elephant in the room here which is the status of De Guzman. In the press conference, Winter suggested that there's still very much a future at the club for De Guzman, but it's difficult to see how at this stage. Many people have said that a DM is a bad use of a DP, now we're going to have two of them? No, I think De Guzman's time at TFC is coming to a close, whether soon, or at the end of this season, a sad end to a move that has never quite worked out.
I do have confidence that Frings will work out better, and it all comes down to that 'winning mentality' that management is trying to impose on the club. He's captained a side in the UEFA Champions League, and played a bunch of times with Germany, which is a national team with more of a winning mentality than Julian de Guzman could ever have dreamed of picking up with the Canadian team. Even if he's a declining force on the field, he should have a huge effect in the dressing room and with younger players in the squad.
As for Danny Koevermans, well I know a lot less about him, but his stats with PSV Eindhoven over the years are impressive. If he's not coming over here simply for a retirement package then this could work out very nicely. He should be very familiar with the style that Winter and Bob de Klerk are trying to get going, and as the absence of Alan Gordon has shown, an intelligent forward up top is crucial to making this system work. Whether he'll outright replace Gordon or Maicon Santos at Centre Forward in the 4-3-3 or the system will be changed around to allow him to play with Gordon will be interesting to watch. So far this season, secondary scoring has been almost non existent for TFC, as an example, aside from penalties we have one goal from anyone other than Gordon or Santos in the last 15 games. Another scoring option is good to have, hopefully a way can be found to have at least 2 of those 3 forwards regularly on the field and contributing. Of course he could be the next Mista, but let's hope not.
It's very very unlikely that any league success will come this year, though hopefully there'll be Champions League games that these two will be able to influence. But mainly this is about the future, very directly next season, and indirectly in their influence on the players to come after they've long retired back to Europe.So, there it is. Hope for the future. Keep renewing those season tickets kids. MLSE you magnificent bastards!