TFC finally makes splash

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:40 AM ET

TORONTO - It took longer than the fans wanted, but Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. has finally opened up its purse strings.

Toronto FC, the lowest-scoring team in Major League Soccer this season and fourth-lowest in 2010 has inked two offensive-minded designated players from Europe.

TFC’s once rock-solid base of supporters has been disenchanted for much of the past two seasons as the club sunk to the bottom of the standings and have been clamouring for help, particularly up front.

Enter German international midfielder Torsten Frings and big Dutch forward Danny Koevermans, who have inked multi-year pacts with the club.

They will be paid handsomely, with Frings likely far exceeding the pay of TFC’s inaugural designated player, Canadian Julian de Guzman, who makes $1.9 million U.S. in the second-last year of his contract.

De Guzman has been a disappointment, while last season’s DP pickup, Mista, was a colossal failure.

Frings and Koevermans come with fine pedigrees and on paper, appear to be exactly what the Reds need.

“It’s a very big day for us, we’re getting some great players,” said head coach and technical director Aron Winter.

“It’s a massive step to embark on ... bringing in players of this calibre is going to be a beacon for the young players, some unbelievable role models to look up to,” added TFC director of player development Paul Mariner.

Frings, 34, has suited up 79 times for Germany, scoring 10 times - including for two World Cups - and helped his country to the 2002 finals and a runner-up finish at Euro 2008.

Winter said he was looking for leaders and Frings has a long record of success, including a Bundesliga title with Bayern Munich and several other domestic cup titles. He was captain of Werder Bremen from 2009-2011.

He is capable of playing anywhere in the midfield, but has shown offensive abilities in the past and could be utilized as link from the back to the team’s forwards.

Where the arrival of Frings and the solid midfield play of Tony Tchani and Nathan Sturgis this season leaves de Guzman remains to be seen, though Winter, wasn’t exactly singing his praises at the introductory media conference for the new players on Wednesday.

Winter, who already oddly gave the captain’s armband to Maicon Santos earlier in the season when de Guzman was the obvious choice, made it clear he expects Frings to be his leader in the midfield and also noted that de Guzman - whether due to injuries or otherwise - can play better.

Though Frings is the bigger name, Koevermans, 32, promises to be just as influential.

Target man Alan Gordon has been TFC’s best player this season, but he has been limited by injuries.

Now, the 6-foot-3 Kovermans provides another, more proven option up front.

His strike rate in the Netherlands has been exceptional. He scored 71 goals in 110 games for Sparta Rotterdam, 31 in 52 games for AZ Alkmaar and 24 more over four seasons with PSV Eindhoven. He has earned four caps for the Dutch national team, scoring once.

Both Winter and Mariner said the club had been after quality DP’s for a while, but bided their time until finding the right fits.

“Contrary to popular belief, players like this don’t grow on trees,” said Mariner.

“There’s a lot of players that are available, contracts ending over in Europe, but you’ve got (to find player who match) a system, have to have the right attitude.”

Frings said his former World Cup coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, who helped MLSEL decide on Winter and Mariner prior to the season, sold him on the Reds, while Koevermans heard from Winter, his countryman directly.

“I wanted to make this step a long time now at this age,” Koevermans said.

“I wanted to go abroad and Aron called me and he said to me: ‘Think about Toronto.’

“I’m looking forward to playing my game here and being important for the team.”

Unfortunately for TFC, neither player will be available until after the international transfer window opens on July 15th, meaning they won’t debut until a July 20th match vs. FC Dallas at BMO Field.

- - -

Torsten Frings #22

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5’11

Weight: 176 pds.

Birthdate: November 22, 1976

Last Club: Werder Bremen

Danny Koevermans #14

Position: Forward

Height: 6’3

Weight: 170 pds.

Birthdate: November 1, 1978

Last Club: PSV Eindhoven


Videos

Photos