Torsten Frings Archive

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TFC’s Payne: “We’ve been building this airplane as it’s in flight”

Torsten Frings: Calling it a career

Toronto FC president Kevin Payne spoke glowingly about Torsten Frings’ leadership qualities during the German midfielder’s retirement announcement on Tuesday, and there is no doubt that Payne will miss Frings as a person and as the Reds’ captain. That said, Payne will find it easier to say goodbye to Frings’ $335K salary cap number and spoke at length about the team’s plans to fill both Frings’ spot and the many other holes on the Toronto roster.

“It’s a loss and it’s a gain,” Payne said. “It’s hard to replace a guy who’s played in two World Cups but now we have a designated-player slot, an international slot and cap money available… We’re playing catch-up with the roster. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen in a short period of time.”

Payne cited six possible new acquisitions in the offing, with Frings’ DP slot potentially being filled by an unnamed young forward from Argentina who Payne said TFC chief scout Pat Onstad is trying to sign. A more immediate addition could be Queens Park Rangers striker Hogan Ephraim, as Payne said he was hopeful that the 24-year-old Ephraim would be signed to a loan agreement within the next couple of days.

Two other English football names (Welsh striker Robert Earnshaw and Tottenham midfielder John Bostock) will also be joining the Reds in camp for trials, and members of TFC’s coaching staff recently traveled to Honduras to scout two players with the assistance of ex-Toronto star Amado Guevara. All of these players would come in on loan, and while it remains to be seen how many will actually end up wearing the TFC shirt, there is no doubt the team won’t have a full or first-choice roster in play for Saturday’s season open against Vancouver.

(ED. UPDATE. On Tuesday night, at the team’s fan event, TFC revealed that Ephraim was now officially a Red, and that the club had also signed academy prospect Jonathan Osorio and Supplemental Draft pick Taylor Morgan).
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Why TFC has to learn from its Designated-Player mistakes

Kevin Payne

With a bad hip and a big contract, Torsten Frings presented Toronto FC’s front office a real problem.

So, the team and player joined to take the only course they could — retirement for the German midfielder/defender. The process, drawn out over the course of training camp, came to an end Tuesday when the team announced that Frings has ended his playing career.

With Eric Hassli (traded to FC Dallas) and Frings gone, two Designated Player spots have opened up for the Reds. And with that comes the nearly US$700,000 in cap space. And, of course, there will be many who cry that TFC President and General Manager Kevin Payne should go like for like, replacing the two big-ticket items with two new big-ticket items. After all, hasn’t TFC accumulated enough allocation money to build a magic castle at Exhibition Place?
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Cesar signing: TFC’s rebuilding process includes bringing a 34-year-old to the dance

Julio Cesar

Toronto FC confirmed Tuesday morning that it has signed veteran Brazilian defensive midfielder Julio Cesar.

Cesar continues his much-traveled career. He has played for more than 15 professional clubs in his career, and hasn’t played more than 90 matches for any of hem. He’s best known for his time at Olympiacos and Real Valladolid, but he played 21 times for Real Madrid and four times for AC Milan.

He made 54 appearances for Sporting Kansas City since 2011.

“It’s important that Toronto FC becomes a more difficult team to play against this year. Julio Cesar will be an important part of the backbone of our team in the middle of the field,” said Toronto FC President and General Manager Kevin Payne in a release issued by the club. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hassli return represents a significant gamble for Toronto FC

By standing pat on its collection of DPs, Toronto FC’s front office has, in fact, decided to play craps.

Yes, it’s a mixed metaphor. But it’s apt.

The team confirmed Monday that it will exercise the option on striker Eric Hassli’s contract for 2013. Hassli is hard-nosed centre forward who has, in each of the last two years, scored a wonder goal that earned worldwide attention. His strike from the Amway Canadian Championship final is nominated for the Ferenc Puskas Award, which FIFA awards for the the most spectacular goal scored in 2012.

But Hassli’s career as a Whitecap and as a Red has been marked by significant stays on the sidelines due to injuries. His ankles have been problematic. While he played in 25 games this season, he started just 16, and he isn’t seen as a 90-minute player.
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Canada’s Petrescu named the MLS top ref of 2012

Canadian Silviu Petrescu has been named MLS Referee of the Year.

According to the voting stats released by MLS on Tuesday, Petrescu got exactly half of all the media votes tallied, 34.55 per cent from the clubs and 36.78 per cent of the player votes. So, more than one in three players think that Petrescu is the best official in the league.

Petrescu will work the MLS Cup finale between Los Angeles and Houston.

Petrescu worked 20 MLS matches this season, including the wild-card playoff match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps, which was decided on a Landon Donovan penalty-kick goal. On that play, Petrescu ruled that Whitecaps defender Martin Bonjour had fouled Donovan in the area. It wasn’t an easy call, as Donovan was leaning into Bonjour as he went forward into the box, putting the defender in a no-win situation: Either let Donovan go by, or know that, no matter the contact, Donovan will go down.
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Frings out for the season: Another TFC DP bites the dust

Torsten Frings

Torsten Frings is the second of Toronto’s Designated Players to be lost for the season.

With the Reds being just a single point from being officially eliminated from the MLS playoff race, the club announced Wednesday that Frings will need hip surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He joins Danny Koevermans, who is out with a torn knee.

In terms of DP impact, Koevermans was a regular scorer, and Frings had moments of brilliance, mixed with moments where it seemed as if the Reds’ mistake-prone defence had worn off on him. But neither could turn TFC into a winning club.

Of course, with the rise of Federico Higuain in Columbus, who scores and/or sets up goals in every game in which he plays — and has transformed the Crew into the hottest team in MLS — the idea of finding a DP who can immediately impact a club and the league is once again being talked about. TFC has yet to find such a player in its history.
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Santos Laguna scores two late goals to all but seal TFC’s CCL fate

Not that Toronto FC didn’t already know they were cursed in the final minutes of games, but the universe is just rubbing it in when a black cat literally runs through your goal area. Sure enough, soon after the feline intruder appeared on the pitch, TFC conceded two late scores and ended up with a 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna that all but ends their hopes of another run to the CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage.

Bad luck wasn’t to blame for the outcome, given that Santos drastically outshot the Reds (11-1 in shots on goal and 22-12 overall) and could’ve found those two goals earlier were it not for the heroics of TFC goalkeeper Freddy Hall. Still, Toronto was close to escaping with a point against their heavily-favoured opponents before things fell apart in the 90th minute.

“There’s no way that was a 3-1 game,” said TFC head coach Paul Mariner. “I thought we were a little tentative in the first half and in the second half we played much better… We matched them for 89 minutes.”
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Late free kick allows SKC to edge Toronto FC in “bit of a nothing match”

Kei Kamara

Toronto FC did well to defend against an onslaught of quality chances from Sporting Kansas City, but it was one bad bounce that doomed the Reds in a 1-0 loss on Saturday at BMO Field.

After TFC held the Eastern Conference leaders scoreless through the first 83 minutes, it was a 30-yard free kick from Kei Kamara that put Sporting ahead.  Kamara’s kick appeared to take a deflection off of Toronto’s Andrew Wiedeman that sent the ball arcing past the wall and inside the right post on an angle, past diving goalkeeper Milos Kocic.

“It took a deflection and hampered the keeper as well,” said defender Darren O’Dea.  “It doesn’t need to be pretty, but you need to come away with something.  I think that was probably our best spell in the game as well.”
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TFC or MLS? It doesn’t matter who killed the Mellberg deal

Don Garber

Yes, surrouding ESPN’s halftime show, an MLS All-Star Game in Chester, PA. was played.

But, for a heck of a lot of MLS followers, the most interesting part of Wednesday evening came in the network’s halftime chat with league commissioner Don Garber. Garber was asked if MLS had indeed blocked TFC’s efforts to sign Swedish veteran and former Aston Villa centre back Olof Mellberg.

Garber’s answer was interesting. He said the deal wasn’t in the best interest of the league, but that MLS HQ did NOT block the deal. He said it was TFC’s decision not to go ahead with the contract offer.
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Mariner’s fiery halftime speech inspires TFC rally against the Rapids

Paul Mariner: Unleased the hairdryer on TFC players at halftime.

Toronto FC was playing its 10th game in 33 days on Wednesday night against the Colorado Rapids and, in the first half, it looked as if the busy schedule had finally caught up to the Reds.  The club was frustrated and down a goal after the first 45 minutes, and yet in the second half, the Reds rebounded to equalize and then pull ahead on Andrew Wiedeman’s first career goal to give Toronto the 2-1 result.

With the Reds on a three-game winning streak, suddenly the club may wish that it had yet another league game in a few days in order to keep its roll going.

“We take them as they come,” said defender Doneil Henry.  “The boys have been putting in great shifts and it’s hard but we’ve been handling it well. We just keep grinding.”

The Reds’ congested schedule coincided with Paul Mariner’s hiring as head coach, and TFC are now 4-2-4 under their new gaffer, as opposed to their gruesome 1-9 record under Aron Winter over the season’s first 10 games.  Mariner praised how his players responded after he “gave them both barrels at halftime.”
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