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Who TFC Were: Tosaint Ricketts

A pacey super-sub who ‘clutched’ many victories for the Reds.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

2015 was a season in which the groundwork was laid for an MLS Cup-winning team. The offence was one of the best in the league, with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco forming a formidable force. Unfortunately, the defence couldn’t quite get its act together. So signings were made after the end of the season, with Clint Irwin, Will Johnson, Steven Beitashour and Drew Moor all brought into the squad. MLS veterans sought out to shore up the backline. These were all exciting signings, as it looked like Toronto were putting themselves on a path for an MLS Cup run with their newly-upgraded squad.

There were a few other new players, but one in particular struck me as a disappointing signing: Tosaint Ricketts. My feeling wasn’t backed up by too many facts — I hadn’t watched him much before (oddly enough I knew him most from seeing him as a free agent on FIFA 16 Career Mode and scooping him up), but I just had a feeling that he was going to be another striker/winger who was all pace and had no real technical capabilities. A few years before, I remember when Dominic Oduro signed for Toronto FC (one of the fastest players in MLS) who was extremely fast but was unable to make any significant contributions for the Reds on the pitch. I’m all for signing more Canadian players, but Ricketts struck me as the next Dominic Oduro.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Toronto FC Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Anyway, Tosaint Ricketts signed for Toronto FC as a free agent at 29 years old, having played for 7 clubs, mostly in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He never really established himself at any club, playing for a few seasons at most for each before moving on to the next team. The last team that he played for was Turkish club Boluspor, where he scored 1 goal in 15 appearances before leaving in early 2016 due to a dispute over unpaid wages. At the time of writing, he has scored 17 goals in 61 appearances with Canada and made many of those caps before signing with Toronto FC. So he has had a fairly established career with Canada, especially since he sometimes plays as a winger (who don’t typically score as much as strikers).

As a bit of an aside (since we’re talking about his contributions to the CANMNT), take a look at this game, where Tosaint Ricketts scored a hat-trick against the USA (this looks like a youth game, but I’m not quite sure).

The reason why Toronto FC sought out Tosaint Ricketts was because of limited striker depth after releasing both Luke Moore and Herculez Gomez. So along with Jordan Hamilton and Mohalm Babouli (who weren’t viewed as good enough yet to rely on), Tosaint Ricketts would serve as a backup striker to the Altidore-Giovinco duo.

When Ricketts began playing for Toronto FC, I was surprised at how well he outperformed my expectations. He was not Giovinco by any means, but he was a quality target man/poacher striker who was good at being able to position himself in the right areas to kick in a goal. As he played longer for the Reds, I was pleasantly surprised by his heading capabilities — the man was about as much of a threat from headers as Jozy Altidore! He wasn’t much of a chance creator, but a chance finisher who was significantly better than the options we had. Players like Mohalm Babouli, Jordan Hamilton, and Ben Spencer (who joined after Ricketts) all had their talents, but ultimately the experience and refined capabilities of Ricketts topped their capabilities at the time.

In 2016, he had a decent goal-scoring record scoring 3 goals in 399 minutes (11 appearances), and smashed in two goals in the playoffs. One of those goals was a tap-in against Montreal which ensured Toronto FC would go into the MLS Cup Final against Seattle Sounders FC. He also scored against NYCFC in the playoffs.

MLS: Montreal Impact at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, he made 22 appearances (1002 minutes) where he scored 7 goals and got 1 assist. In my personal opinion, the 2016 playoff run and the 2017 season (excluding the playoffs) were where he shined the most with our club. He began to get in a really good run of form midway through and later on in 2017, helping the club clinch victories that I don’t think they could’ve done without. As players like Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore became unavailable, he held the fort, winning games on his own. That was the odd part about him for me: he seemed like this ‘fringe’ player who would only make a minimal impact, but ended up making pretty significant contributions when he was needed to. I remember when he came on as a sub against the Columbus Crew and scored 2 goals out of nowhere to get us a 2-1 victory away from home. Before he came on, the team was so frustrating to watch since the team couldn’t string together any coherent attacks, and yet Ricketts was able to pull a rabbit out of the hat and get the victory. Depth players like Tosaint Ricketts are the players who take your team from a top team to a title-winning team.

In what would end up being his final season with the club, 2018, He was not quite as good. He was still able to score 3 goals in 18 appearances (601 minutes), but like many TFC players that season he didn’t perform quite as well as the previous few seasons. Ultimately, his contract option was declined at the end of the 2018 season which left him as a free agent again. He finished his time in Toronto with 13 goals in 51 appearances.

After he left the club, he signed in January 2019 for Sūduva in Lithuania’s top league. He ended up scoring 8 goals in the A Lyga while scoring 1 goal in the Europa League qualifying against Tre Penne (from San Marino). He was then transferred to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in August 2019 and has scored 3 goals in 38 appearances so far. At the time of writing, the 34-year-old is out of contract but is in negotiations with the ‘Caps to potentially extend his stay with the team for longer.

Overall, Tosaint Ricketts was a solid player given the times. Toronto FC needed depth in the striker position, and he provided that and more. Ricketts was one of those players who helped to win some of the points necessary for winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2017 and also provided many crucial goals in Toronto FC’s playoff runs (and victory) in 2016 and 2017. Ricketts was a super-sub off the bench who provided pace and quality attacking positioning which provided numerous important goals, cementing his legacy with the Reds. I’m always a fan of Canadians getting their chances, and Tosaint earned his. I wish him all the best in the remainder of his football career.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports