Eckersley completes TFC move

KURTIS LARSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:26 PM ET

TORONTO - As first reported by QMI Agency last week, Richard Eckersley’s permanent move from Burnley to BMO Field immediately upgrades a fledgling defence that was once plagued with injuries, inexperience and concern.

After implementing a more attack-minded, 4-3-3 system last spring, Eckersley’s inclusion midway through 2011 provided the struggling Reds immediate width and a versatile option in the attacking third.

Aside from his technical and tactical contributions, in less than a full season in Toronto, the Englishman became a vocal leader, stepping up to direct a back four that often consisted of defensive bandages rather than MLS-ready fullbacks.

“This signing represents another successful step in our off-season progress as a club,” head coach Aron Winter said. “Richard is an important player for our club. We know our fans will be excited to see Richard on the pitch.”

As it stands, the Reds will begin 2012 with a pair of spirited wing backs who, while hard in defence, are quick to get forward and compliment the likes of Joao Plata and Danny Koevermans.

With Canadian defender Adrian Cann and Jamaican Dicoy Williams racing to recover from a pair of 2011 ACL tears, Eckersley’s addition provides needed stability to a pool of defenders TFC had failed to upgrade until the former Manchester United reserve was officially introduced Thursday afternoon.

“Signing Richard was a very high off-season priority,” Winter said. “Our team worked tirelessly to ensure he would be returning.”

When the Reds opened last year with a 4-2 loss in Vancouver, Stefan Frei was bombarded after an amateurish defence, consisting of Dan Gargan and an out-of-form Nana Attakora, looked thoroughly out of sorts to open the season.

Along with the addition of Ecuadoran international Geovanny Caicedo, yesterday’s announcements will have the Reds ready to compete from day one.

kurtis.larson@sunmedia.ca

@KurtLarSun


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