November 22, 2006 Toronto FC signs free-agents Adam Braz, Chris Pozniak, and Marco Reda (from MLSnet.com Staff)
Toronto FC presents newest players
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff
TORONTO -- Just call them the Canadian Shield -- a trio of homegrown talents who might anchor the Toronto FC defense for years to come.
Toronto FC introduced Adam Braz, Chris Pozniak and Marco Reda as the club's first free-agent signings at a press conference on Wednesday. The three defenders have signed multi-year contracts with the Major League Soccer expansion team, and they join midfielder Jim Brennan as Toronto FC's Canadian contingent.
"It's great to be here," Reda said. "Having never experienced professional football in Toronto before, this is a really nice change for me. I'm looking forward to getting started and it's great to be home."
The two 25-year-olds (Braz and Pozniak) and 29-year-old (Reda) will be making their MLS debuts with Toronto FC, though they are no strangers to each other. All three have played together representing Canada at various levels, including the full national team. Pozniak and Braz were members of Canada's under-20 national team, and Reda played with Pozniak for the United Soccer League's Toronto Lynx.
"It's almost like coming full circle," Reda said. "Me and Jimmy [Brennan], we played together when we were 14 or 15 years old."
Reda joins Toronto after six years in Europe playing in the top leagues of Denmark and Norway. The native of Woodbridge, Ontario thinks the MLS Cup Playoffs "are realistic" for Toronto FC in its first season due to the fact that it can attract Canucks like Pozniak, Braz and himself.
"We might be have a bit of an edge being a Canadian expansion team because we're able to sign Canadian players who have that international experience," Reda said. "Other MLS teams might not have that advantage."
After six years playing in Sweden and Norway, Pozniak agreed that the club will be competitive in its inaugural campaign, and called Wednesday's signings "a good base" for Toronto to build on.
"It's exciting to be part of ... a new franchise that I have faith can really kick-start soccer in Canada for the first time," Pozniak said. "It's a bit of a dream come true for me, because growing up [in Aurora, Ontario] there wasn't a club of this magnitude in Toronto."
Braz is no stranger to Canadian soccer, having spent four of his five professional seasons with his hometown Montreal Impact of the USL. He has helped the Impact win three consecutive USL First Division titles, and led an Impact backline that held opponents to just 15 goals in 28 USL games.
For Braz, the biggest attraction of coming to Toronto is the chance to test his game on the larger stage of MLS.
"As a Canadian, you always want to play at the highest possible level in North America and play at home," Braz said. "We never had an opportunity until now with Toronto FC because MLS is the highest level here in North America. It's an extremely big opportunity for Canadians to be able to have a team like Toronto FC."
With the MLS expansion draft complete, established MLS stars like Ronnie O'Brien and Edson Buddle (who was aquired Wednesday from New York in exchange for defender Tim Regan) acquired through trades and now these three signings, Toronto FC is well on its way to filling out its inaugural roster for its debut game in the spring. Toronto coach Mo Johnston is pleased by the new additions, and he feels it won't be long until Braz, Pozniak and Reda are stalwarts of his club's defense corps.
"It's a Canadian backfield," Johnston said. "The fans have got to be happy with that. I'm certainly delighted with it because it doesn't take a lot of tinkering in the preseason. When you get guys of this caliber on board, that's tremendous. I'm absolutely thrilled to have every single one of them on board."
Mark Polishuk is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
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