At Toronto FC's media day, after announcing the signing of Geovanny Caicedo, Aron Winter all but confirmed that there would be another defender signed shortly, and that he might be Chilean. Everyone knew he was talking about Miguel Aceval, and today his signing was officially announced. Once again, no contract length or dollar amounts were disclosed.
Aceval is 29 years old, from Chile and has played most of his career there, mainly with Colo Colo of the Chilean Primera division, and last year earned a national cap, so though I've never seen him play, this seems like another very good player to be bringing in. He's a left footed player who can play at Left Back or as the left sided Centre Back. I imagine at Centre Back alongside Caicedo is where he'll start the season, and depending on how that goes, the two of them and Adrian Cann will be the main competitors for those two spots when everyone is healthy, with Ty Harden relegated to the back up role where I'm sure everyone is a bit more comfortable having him.
This also provides a good alternative at Left Back should Ashtone Morgan take a step back this year or have to go off and play for Canada, whether the full team or the under 23's in Olympic qualifying (or in the Olympics themselves if Canada were to qualify, I know I know, hilarious).
Coming as it does after the signings of Caicedo and Richard Eckersley, this means the defence is significantly upgraded from it's worrying pre season state. While it's always easy to imagine the best before the games have actually been played, and there's a good chance that one or both of Caicedo and Aceval will be a flop and not work out, they seem at face value to be two very impressive signings, and point to what will hopefully be a continued willingness to look to South or Central America as a source of players.
Under Mo Johnston, there seemed to be not just a tendency to go with the familiar of players from Europe, but there was almost a deliberate ignoring of Latin America, despite the success other teams had had with players from that region. Though probably not as deliberate a policy, It seemed to continue last off season, with new signings coming from Europe in the form of Mikael Yourassowsky, Javier Martina, Nick Soolsma and Elbekay Bouchiba.
Obviously in the fun filled salary cap world of MLS, there's limitations on how much can be spent, and that showed in those signings. Bouchiba had been playing in Qatar, Soolsma in Holland's lower leagues, Martina had never really done anything after leaving Ajax's youth system, and Yourassowsky was a much travelled journeyman who'd never really stuck anywhere. Realistically, on a budget, that's the level of player you're going to get from Europe.
Now, with presumably a similar sized investment, we have two players from the top leagues, who've both recently represented their country, which on the face of it is a definite upgrade. Also, unheard of in previous times, they've signed right at the beginning of pre season so will have plenty of time to get used to their new teammates. There's depth throughout the squad now, and if we presume at least the SuperDraft picks Luis Silva and Aaron Maund and a couple of academy kids get signed up to the first team, there's very few spots left to fill as pre-season goes along, and the team's in good shape to hit the ground running when the season starts with the important CCl games. It's all so refreshingly different and professional.