February 1, 2007 Midfielder Carl Robinson joins Toronto FC (from MSLnet.com)

02/01/2007 1:31PM
Midfielder Robinson joins Toronto
By Mark Polishuk / Special to MLSnet.com

TORONTO - Carl Robinson cited one major reason for why he signed with Toronto FC: head coach Mo Johnston.

"Mo is a winner," Robinson said. "As soon as I spoke to Mo, he sold it for me. I wanted a new challenge, and this appeals to me."

Toronto FC announced on Thursday that it had signed Robinson, 30, to a two-year deal with an option. The Wales international brings a wealth of experience to the first-year MLS club, not to mention a long-time desire to play in Major League Soccer.

"I've wanted to play here for three or four years," Robinson said, noting that Johnston had first tried to sign him when Johnston was an assistant and then head coach for New York.

"Some people get one opportunity in life, but I've had two to join the MLS," Robinson said. "The second opportunity I didn't want to turn down.

"I'm a believer that first impressions count. When I met Mo he was an honest bloke, straight down the line."

The signing caps off a busy period for Robinson, who has made two trips to Toronto in the last few weeks. He will head back across the Atlantic for an international friendly on Tuesday between Wales and Northern Ireland. Robinson has 35 caps for Wales since first being selected for the squad in 1999.

The veteran midfielder first broke into professional soccer at age 18 when he signed with Wolverhampton Wanderers of the English Football League. He has also played for Shrewsbury, Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday, Walsall, Rotherham United and Sunderland.

Robinson has been with Norwich City of the Football League Championship (one tier below the Premiership) since 2005, and has notched two goals in 45 career games for the Canaries. One of his teammates in Norwich was current Toronto FC player Jim Brennan, who is excited to once again share the field with Robinson.

"He's a great guy on and off the pitch," Brennan said. "He's the type of guy who gets on the ball, holds his position well, break down the play and seize openings. He's the type of player who will play hard for you and make things happen."

Robinson is similarly pleased to be reunited with Brennan, and said he looks forward to meeting his new mates in the midfield, including two-time MLS All-Star Ronnie O'Brien and No. 1 overall MLS SuperDraft pick Maurice Edu.

"There's lots of players here that I take a fancy to," Robinson said. "Their attributes will rub off on me, because I know there's a lot of quality around me. I hope I can pass on what I have as a player, and learn from the other lads as well."

After taking so long to get to MLS, Robinson doesn't want to wait for success in his new league.

"I've come here to win games of football," Robinson said. "It's the first season for Toronto FC, but we'll make it a winning season."

Robinson's signing was not the only move made by Toronto FC on Thursday. The club dealt midfielder Rod Dyachenko to D.C. United in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. Dyachenko originally came to Toronto from D.C. earlier this year in the MLS expansion draft.

"It's always good to get a first-round draft pick," Johnston said. "It serves us well for next year."

Johnston hinted that there may be more moves ahead for his club in advance of Toronto FC's inaugural game on April 7. The Toronto coach said he is still in the market for a defender and backup goaltender, and might also be looking for another striker.

Toronto FC also announced on Thursday that the club had reached a promotional deal with Carlsberg. The brewery is a major sponsor of soccer clubs and events around the world, including the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, the UEFA Cup, England's FA Cup and the English national team.

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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