Home MLS Toronto FC Laba a “foundational” player for Toronto FC, says Payne

Laba a “foundational” player for Toronto FC, says Payne

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The time and effort that Kevin Payne and Toronto FC’s staff put into scouting and acquiring Matias Laba paid off, as the 21-year-old midfielder is officially in the fold. If Payne and Laba have their way, it won’t take nearly as long for Laba to make an impact on the field in MLS.

“Because he’s got his career still ahead of him I think he’ll adapt very quickly,” Payne said. “The way he plays, we believe his physical attributes and the quickness with which he plays and the intensity with which he plays will fit very well with what we’re trying to do.”

“There’s always some question [with players from another league] but we’re very comfortable that Matias will adapt to MLS and do very well quickly… I have always personally liked players from Argentina because I think they’re trained very well in the youth development system for all of the things they have to encounter as professionals. They tend to travel well because they’ve been prepared.””

Laba was officially introduced to the Toronto media on Saturday, a day after he joined the Reds on a Young Designated Player contract, which differs from the usual DP deals in that Laba doesn’t take up quite the same amount as, say, a Thierry Henry or a David Beckham due to Laba’s age. Still, Laba was no bargain, as TFC reportedly had to pay over $1 million to acquire Laba’s services from Argentinos Juniors.

“I think Matias is a very confident young man and a very confident player,” Payne said. “I don’t think it will affect him at all that he had a larger than normal transfer fee… There’s pressure on us I suppose, but we’re pretty confident we made a good choice here.”

It’s easy to be skeptical of the signing given TFC’s checkered history with Designated Players, yet, for Laba himself, he’s only worried about what he does, not with the franchise’s baggage.

“I come with many expectations… but I don’t feel any type of negative feelings or anything where I feel forced into anything,” Laba said via a translator.

Though his career is still young, Laba brings some impressive credentials to TFC. Laba appeared in 72 games for Argentinos Juniors over the last three seasons and started four of Argentina’s five games at the 2011 U-20 World Cup.

Payne said that his pursuit of Laba began over a year ago, when Payne was still with D.C. United, and he and chief scout Pat Onstad continued their efforts once both men joined TFC. There was no shortage of teams from around the world interested in the holding midfielder but Laba was intrigued by the amount of effort the Reds put into scouting him.

“It was a matter of Toronto being after me for such a long time and really showing so much interest,” Laba said. “From a player’s perspective when you see that another team really wants to put you in the team and do everything possible, that’s what motivates me to come here.”

It’s been a busy few days for Designated Player news for Toronto, as new MLSE president Tim Leiweke said yesterday (CLICK HERE) that he would like to attract a major name to the Reds since “TFC deserves that kind of player.” Payne said that he would consider signing a more established DP as the final piece of a championship contender, but he would prefer to spend his Designated Player money on younger talent like Laba.

“In general we want to add Designated Players that we can count on for a period of time,” Payne said. “We would prefer not to get players at the end of their career… so in the meantime we’re looking for players like Matias who can be foundational players for us.”

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One Comment

  1. Bradley M

    April 29, 2013 at 5:48 am

    While I think this is a great signing, I do worry that it will have an effect on the amount of Canadian players TFC will start, Osorio has been great lately but Silva and Hall seem to be in form and favorited (well earned) by Nelsen. Now with the addition of Laba, it puts players like Osorio and Bekker even further down the depth chart, but I guess the club should focus on winning first, so that all the Canadian talent on the team isn’t overshadowed by a terrible season. I also really like this as it now potentially turns Jeremy Hall into a depth player, which really makes Champions league play seem more manageable, I would feel comfortable playing either of the two CDMs in MLS play, and which ever one doesn’t play will be well-rested, and very capable of CCL play.

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