New signing is a 'keeper

LANCE HORNBY, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 3:26 PM ET

At 6-foot-6, Greg Sutton can probably see from BMO Field all the way across the lake to his native Hamilton.

But Toronto FC's new goalkeeper hopes his height advantage is most effective in and around the box once Major League Soccer play commences in April.

He was officially introduced yesterday by the expansion team after word leaked out early in the week he had been signed from the Montreal Impact of the USL.

"My strengths, obviously, are my height and my ability to come for crosses," Sutton said. "People have looked at my statistics and said 'your goals-against average is low because you haven't faced a lot of shots in Montreal.' But I'd like to think a lot of those (shots) didn't come because I came out for crosses and interceptions. That's a big part of my game."

The 29-year-old is the tallest player on FC Toronto as it continues to fill out its roster in preparation for its first season.

"This goes to show we want the best Canadians out there," Toronto coach Mo Johnston said.

Sutton was born in Hamilton, spending a good part of his youth playing soccer in Danbury, Conn., where his father's employer transferred him. But Sutton warmed up to his Canadian roots through six years in Montreal, four of them as a USL all-star and the past two years with the national team.

\ Disarray

He says he is a much different 'keeper than the 23-year-old who first went to the MLS with Cincinnati in 2000, losing 10 of 11 decisions.

"Cincinnati was a franchise in disarray, without defenders of any quality," Sutton said. "I don't know how many shots I faced in a game, but it was quite a few. But hey, I'm a goaltender and when you're trying to gain experience, it's great to see the ball a lot. Consistency is what I want to prove here. Experience is a major factor, especially in goaltending, and the past five years have been a great transition period for me.

"I know now I'm ready. I've picked the right place to re-start my MLS career. The pace is different, the ability of strikers is different. It's vital for a goalie to get into those game situations."

Johnston said negotiations to get Sutton from the Saputo family, which owns the Impact, were cordial and he is hopeful of a home and home exhibition with the club next spring.

Ideally, Johnston would like young FC prospects to play in Montreal rather than go to Europe.

dean.mcnulty@tor.sunpub.com


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