How can you not love this picture?
After getting a bit maudling, despairing and cynical when looking at what Toronto FC gave up in it's recent trade frenzy, I'll now look at what we've brought in, and right off the bat, I'll say I like it, and when combined with Frings and Koevermans I think the team has improved, though it may take a few games for the new players to gel and for us to really see the benefit.
Of the 4 players brought in, I'd expect 3 of them, Andy Iro, Terry Dunfield and Ryan Johnson to be regulars in the first team, and the most crucial of those signings given TFC's current injury situation is Andy Iro. Let's be realistic, he's not at the top level of MLS Centre Backs, he wasn't even in Columbus' first team for most of the season, but he immediately vaults to the top of our depth chart, and even when everyone else is healthy, he could very easily be part of a solid Centre Back partnership. Giving up Tony Tchani hurts, but this fills a very pressing need, so well done for some good roster management.
The other player no doubt grateful to escape from Columbus is Frenchman Leandre Griffit, a winger who had lots of potential, but has never really lived up to it and just drifted from club to club, shuffling further and further down the football ladder. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I have little confidence he'll be anything more than a depth player for when the schedule (hopefully) gets crowded with CCL games.
That leaves the two most interesting and up for debate of the 4 newcomers, Ryan Johnson and Terry Dunfield, I'll look at those two after the jump.
Ryan Johnson is probably the most unpredictable of the signings. From being the Earthquakes MVP and top scorer in 2009 to being regarded by fans as 'next to useless' and very expendable. Hopefully this is a case of a player just needing a change of scenery, and he'll get his old form back, after all he's still playing and scoring for Jamaica, including at the recent Gold Cup. He's a forward who seeems to have been used all over the front line for San Jose, but fitted best at Left Wing. I'd like to see him given the chance to start there, with Joao Plata moving to the right, or maybe having his playing time reduced and becoming an impact substitution.
The main thing that Johnson can bring if he's playing well, which we really haven't had all year is secondary scoring. Both Maicon Santos and Alan Gordon had decent strike rates at Centre Forward, but the rest of the team was terrible. I can't remember the exact stat, but aside from penalties, there's only been 6 goals I can remember from other players, (Martina 2, De Rosario, Tchani, Plata, Yourassowsky all with 1) and really that's pathetic. Danny Koevermnas should continue the good goalscoring from Centre Forward, but we really really need other players to step up and contribute, and if Johnson can find his San Jose 09 or Jamaica goalscoring form, that will be a very positive boost, and a big help to making us more dangerous and well rounded up front.
Last but not least, we now have Terry Dunfield, and my initial reaction to that was very celebratory, I've watched him look very good a few times for the Whitecaps this season, as well as having a good game for Canada in Toronto. Basically I'm also a sucker for emotion in sports, so his pride at playing for Canada, and excitable celebrations were always going to endear him to me as well. Reading some of the reaction from Whitecaps fans does temper that emthusiasm a little. While no-one seems to doubt his committment and his 'all round good guy' status, opinion is very divided on his worth as a player with plenty of comments about poor passing, so is he the next Dan Gargan? A popular 'character and effort' guy whose skills aren't quite good enough to warrant a regular spot, who can do some things well, but flounders when out of his comfort zone?
I think in a way that that is what he is, but I'm ok with that. I've been saying all season that Gargan's not that bad, (and also not as good as people were saying last year) and he's had a few ok games here and there to justify my faith. When with some good players, and when not being asked to do too much, he can make a positive contribution, and I think we can say the same about Terry Dunfield. He didn't look good when tried as an attacking midfielder in Vancouver, but in a more defensive role, he does a lot of good things, including the ability to chip in with a few goals here or there which as I said above is definitely something TFC need. As long as he's not asked to do too much, I think his ability to do the basics, combined with the energy he brings to the game could be a very good compliment to Torsten Frings, Julian De Guzman or whoever else he may end up playing in midfield with.
Much like how Gargan looked like a solid MLS level player under the right coach (Preki and his more defensive system) and a bit of a disaster at times under Nick Dasovic and Aron Winter, whether he works or not will come down to coaching. Whether Aron Winter is the man to provide that right system and coaching to bring out the best of Dunfield or any of the new players is very much up for debate, but that's for another time. I think this is a good pick up, at the very least, he'll be good depth, and at $65,000 that's a good thing to have in MLS, with the chance to do a lot more depending on who else ends up competing for the midfield spots (and I don't think Winter's finished with the trades yet by any means).
If Frings, De Guzman and Dunfield ends up being the 3 in midifled, it should be very interesting to see how they line up, I think 'point' back is fairly obvious, but you could make a case for any three of them to be the defensive midfielder (as well as nathan Sturgis, he's been playing well in that spot). Good options are a good thing to have, and with all the recent acquisitions, through trade or DP signing, we have a lot more of those now. Back up towards the top of the hope/despair helter skelter I go.