April 23, 2007 Toronto FC add new players (from MLSnet.com)
New faces to strengthen Toronto FC
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staf
TORONTO - You'd expect any coach to make some lineup changes after back-to-back scoreless defeats, and Toronto FC boss Mo Johnston is no different. But the Scotsman hopes that a week of roster moves, healed injuries and intense practices for his club will make Wednesday's starting 11 in Kansas City a closer resemblance to the faces TFC fans will see on the pitch for the rest of the season.
"It's just a matter of getting certain guys on the field," Johnston said. "Last week and these last couple of days we've had good practices. It's vital we keep these guys together on the field in a set formation and get them comfortable."
A pair of deals made on Thursday will result in two new starters for Toronto on defense against Kansas City. Defender Kevin Goldthwaite and a first-round pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft were acquired from Houston in exchange for midfielder Richard Mulrooney. In addition, TFC acquired 2006 No. 1 overall SuperDraft pick Marvell Wynne last Thursday from the New York Red Bulls for a partial allocation and a second-round pick in the 2008 draft.
Goldthwaite is "very underrated," said Johnston. "He's good at coming forward, he's got a long throw, he defends well and he's intelligent."
The 24-year-old defender is joining Toronto after making 20 appearances, eight of them starts, for MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo in 2006. Johnston said that Goldthwaite's taste of championship glory will be an important addition to his team, and pointed to an intrasquad scrimmage at Monday's practice as an example of the defender's competitive nature.
"When they lost the little game there, he was the one who was upset," Johnston said. "That comes from winning. I want my team to establish that. I want people to get upset when they lose."
As for Wynne, Johnston got a first-hand look at the 20-year-old defender as coach of New York last season. The TFC boss was eager to acquire the young star and believes he has the talent to be a fixture of the Toronto backfield for years to come.
"He certainly has the athleticism, the speed, the strength, and the ability to get up and down the line," Johnston said. "He's still a young man and he's got a lot to learn, but he's a talented young player."
Wynne said he is happy to be in Toronto and feels he has something to prove after being dealt just one year after being drafted first overall and starting 23 games for New York.
"In no way is it a downside of any sort," Wynne said of his surprising trade. "In no way do I feel I'm starting over again. I feel I'm just taking my experiences from last year and building on them with a new club. We've got a solid team here and I think we'll do really well."
Toronto's other new acquisition will have to wait a bit longer to wear the TFC red. English forward Danny Dichio was signed last Thursday from Preston North End in England's Coca-Cola Championship (second tier), but will miss Wednesday's match with Kansas City due to visa problems. Dichio should be able to play on Saturday in Toronto FC's inaugural home game at BMO Field.
The 32-year-old London native is a 14-year veteran of England's Football League and the Italian Serie A. Yet even after scoring 70 goals in 341 career matches, and with his Preston squad battling for promotion to the Premiership, Dichio was looking to travel across the pond.
"It's a move I've wanted to do for the last few years now," Dichio said. "My wife is American, so we wanted to come over and live here, as well as play in MLS. It's not like a holiday trip like some English players who come and play over here.
"We've got quite a few Americans and Canadians over in the Premiership and Championship in England and they've done very well," he added. "They've given a good account of themselves (and) of what the league is like over here. I know it'll be a very quick, physical league, so hopefully I can impose my stature on MLS."
In addition to the new arrivals, Johnston will also get some reinforcements from the injured list. Maurice Edu, Toronto's No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, will make his MLS debut on Wednesday after missing TFC's first two games with a groin injury. Defender Chris Pozniak will also be available after recovering from a hamstring strain, and Johnston said midfielder Ronnie O'Brien will be able to make at least a substitute appearance on Saturday in Toronto FC's first-ever home game, though the coach warned it will be a few games before O'Brien will be back to full fitness.
Overall, Johnston has been pleased with his team's week of practice and thinks that the real Toronto FC -- not the undermanned, disorganized bunch that has been outscored 6-0 in two MLS games thus far -- is ready to make its debut on Wednesday. The coach promised that as his players adjust to each other and to the caliber of play in MLS, things will only get better for the first-year club.
"When you got to school, you didn't know your ABCs," Johnston said. "But you found out when you got there. It's very similar with this group. It's important to see we're having fun. The spirits are still high."
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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