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Toronto FC boost defence by signing Johan Brunell and extending Nick Hagglund

The Reds look to have their centre-back group in order after completing two deals on Thursday.

Nick Hagglund Toronto FC Luke Galati

Toronto FC have had a busy Thursday morning, announcing an extension to Nick Hagglund’s contract before confirming the signing of trialist Johan Brunell to the first team.

Hagglund, ironically, may be about to see his place come under threat from new signing Chris Mavinga but earned improved terms after emerging as a starter in last season’s playoffs. He was excellent in the New York City tie and then delivered one of the most memorable moments of the season by debuting Air Hagglund against Montreal in the following round.

Hagglund earned the league-minimum of $63,000 last year but will have nearly doubled that if we can assume he is now in line with the likes of Eriq Zavaleta and Marky Delgado. TFC did not disclose the length of the deal beyond noting it was “multi-year extension”.

Brunell, meanwhile, is a Finnish centre-back who spent preseason on trial with the Reds after being spotted at a tournament in Mexico. He last played for FF Jaro in the second division but has five years’ worth of Veikkausliiga (first division) experience.

The 25-year-old, whose signing leaves TFC with two senior roster slots and one international slot still available, seemed to be in a straight battle with Clement Simonin for a contract during the training camps in California and Florida. He slots in as the fifth-choice centre-back, allowing Brandon Aubrey to go down to TFC II to play regular football.

Now Mavinga is fit, it would not be a surprise to see Brunell, too, start out with TFC II before being fully integrated into the first team. The Reds’ USL season starts on Saturday, March 25 against Phoenix Rising.