Home MLS Toronto FC Cesar signing: TFC’s rebuilding process includes bringing a 34-year-old to the dance

Cesar signing: TFC’s rebuilding process includes bringing a 34-year-old to the dance


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.

“He’s a tough, experienced, committed player who was a big part of Sporting Kansas City’s success over the past two years, and we’re very pleased he will be a part of TFC this season.”

Cesar, though, at 34, is just one year younger than his coach, Ryan Nelsen. The team already has Torsten Frings, who is 36. Striker Eric Hassli turns 32 this spring. Danny Koevermans is 34. Midfielder Terry Dunfield is 30. Central defender Danny Califf is 32.

Wait, this is a franchise that’s supposed to be rebuilding? One that could theoretically put six thirtysomething players on the pitch at one time? Should a club that’s rebuilding even have six thirtysomethings on its entire roster?

Julio Cesar

Payne was saddled with a team that was too old — it’s not all his fault. But, in signing Cesar, he looks to be taking a page from the Montreal Impact’s playbook. Even though you’re in a building phase, sign veteran players with the hopes they over-perform through the twilight phases of their careers.

(That, by the way, is also the old NASL-of-the-’70s strategy).

TFC’s failed attempt to bring in Honduran Arnold Peralta made a lot of sense. The club has to be rebuilt, so why not find one of the finest U-23 prospects in Central America?

But, what good will having a team filled with thirtysomethings do for a franchise that has to be looking long into the future?

Cesar is a good piece for an MLS contender that needs a depth or role player to fill a hole. But for a club that is showing its fans — with the hiring of a new president and coach — that it wants to blow things up, what does signing a 34-year-old prove?

TFC needs youth — badly. The Academy will provide some of that — but not enough to really boost the senior squad. The reality is that every other GM and coach in MLS will look at this club as it stands and think it will be able to physically outlast and outrun the Reds.


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  1. BCM

    January 16, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I’m liking the new leadership – bizarre coaching moves excluded. I reckon if the team stabilizes and things go TFC’s way they will compete for a playoff spot. After the draft, I may even predict a playoff spot.

  2. footy

    January 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    TFC will get youth in the form of two early first-round draft picks. I think it’s excellent to add some grit to the team (all of the signings seem to have that factor in common). Add the academy-youngsters in the mix and you could have quite the competitive team.

  3. No

    January 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    No perspective. TFC is the youngest team in the league, despite the veteran presence. A little more mentorship couldn’t hurt.

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