Building for the future

DEAN McNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:27 PM ET

The brand spanking new Toronto FC Major League Soccer team has not yet signed a full roster of players, nor does it even have a permanent pitch to practice on until the BMO Stadium is completed next spring.

But what is does have is optimism.

Toronto coach Mo Johnston introduced three Canadian defenders -- Adam Braz, Chris Pozniak and Marco Reda -- to go along with Irish midfielder Ronnie O'Brien yesterday at a media event at the CN Tower.

One after the other the four players spoke about how strong they expect the team will be in its inaugural season in the MLS.

In fact, O'Brien went as far as to say the club -- when all the parts are in place -- will be the equivalent of a mid-pack First Division side in Europe.

"And I think that an all-star team from the league would be competitive in the Premiership," he said. "I'm not saying we would win it, but we would give them a go."

O'Brien's boast, he said, was based on a seven-year career playing professionally in Europe with such clubs as Juventus, Logano, Middleborough and Dundee United.

Braz, a 25-year-old from Montreal, comes to Toronto with the best defensive record on the Montreal Impact over the past four seasons in the United Soccer League.

"I'm just glad I have this great opportunity to play professionally in Canada," he said. "It's a great chance to play professional soccer at the highest possible level."

Pozniak, as well, sung the praises of his new team, even though there is still a mountain of building blocks to be put in place before the final model in turned out.

"I am really excited to be part of this team," he said. "And I have faith that this team will kick start soccer's popularity in this country."

Johnston defended the signing of three Canadians on a club that is looking at Toronto's soccer-mad ethnic communities to fill its 20,000-seat new stadium.

"Marco is a Canadian with international experience," Johnston said.

"Adam is a leader, and Chris also brings great leadership. I am absolutely thrilled to have each and every one of them on board."

And Johnston bragged that O'Brien brings the best right foot in the MLS to Toronto.

"For me, he's the best right side player in America," Johnston said. "I've been trying to sign him for years."

Meanwhile, the club made a trade yesterday, sending expansion draft pick Tim Regan to the New York Red Bulls for American international forward Edson Buddle.


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