Defoe & Bradley Join TFC
I was lucky enough to attend both events today put on by Toronto FC to introduce Jermaine Defoe and Michael Bradley as the newest members of the club. It was a pretty special day, topped off with a Jermaine Defoe fist bump!
I think that it is fair to say that there are few TFC supporters who do not know by now what Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe can bring on the field. Defoe has the ability to be a perennial golden boot winner in MLS. He is a 31 year old England International possessing pace and lethal finishing. He is famous for his professionalism on the training ground and by every account I can find he is a nice guy and excellent teammate. The earlier acquisition of the promising striker Gilberto from Brazil and the quality veteran presence of Defoe should address Toronto’s woeful attacking statistics from last season.
Michael Bradley is another consummate professional who instantly becomes one of the absolute top midfielders in MLS. He possesses skill matched with physicality, almost unparalleled experience as a 26 year old, and a toughness and sense for the game that will undoubtedly make every person around him on the field better. Youngsters like Osorio, Gilberto, Dike and Rey will no doubt learn from these two what it takes to be a good player by both their words and by their examples.
But lets not warm up the double decker playoff bus just yet.
Toronto FC has only started turning the corner. Not a game has been played. We are roughly six weeks away from the roster compliance deadline. We truly have no idea realistically how much allocation and cap space there is left after this most expensive of shopping days to fill the remaining holes on the roster. The club is still thin at the back and there is the hard work ahead for coach Ryan Nelsen to take these disparate pieces and bring them together into a team that can win.
But that stuff is all ahead of us. What today was all about was finally turning the page from the past. Excluding the Voyageurs Cup and Champions League runs, which I think its fair to say only truly mattered to the hardcore committed supporter, this team had been a shambles in the League, which above all else matters most in club football. Tim Leiweke and his staff have done to date all that they said they would do to address this most pressing of issues.
Most importantly what this special day means to me above all else is that no matter how the 2014 campaign ends, for the first time in five years (since the playoff near miss campaign in 2009) there is a TFC team that is going into the League campaign ahead with something resembling optimism.
Optimism is what it is all about is it not?
As a supporter you have to to be able to go to the ground hoping you can win. You have to look at the season ahead as something other than a burden. And particularly last season that is exactly what it ended up feeling like.
The other thing that has been restored in my mind is credibility. Since the 2009 season ended in the New Jersey swamp there have been few things that this organization has said that have been proven to be either correct or for that matter true. Today Tim Leiweke delivered on his tangible promise to address the on field issues in a big way. Bradley and Defoe together are I think fair to say about as good as Toronto FC could get in the much more difficult than normal winter transfer window. Other teams in MLS have to take what Toronto FC has done seriously. BMO Field can now hopefully start becoming the tough place to come and play in that we all hope it can be.
I love this team and it has pained me that TFC has been seen by many as a joke over the past few seasons. These couple of weeks with Gilberto, Jackson, Defoe, Morrow, De Rosario and Bradley coming into the fold and management saying what they will do and doing what they say for me at least restores that credibility.
The 2014 campaign will soon be upon us and I don’t know how good we can be. But to quote Tim Leiweke – “…Why. Can’t. We. Be. Great?…”