Toronto FC sign right back Eckersley to permanent deal

Toronto FC locked up another standout from their up-and-down 2011 campaign on Thursday.

Two weeks after agreeing to a multi-year contract with diminutive attacker Joao Plata, Toronto announced they had completed the signing of right back Richard Eckersley (above, left), who was on loan from Burnley last season. Per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Eckersley, 22, arrived in Toronto in mid-April and made 22 starts for manager Aron Winter during his first season with the Reds. He also appeared in all four matches of the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship, which Toronto won to earn a place in the CONCACAF Champions League. He made six appearances in subsequent CCL matches.

“Signing Richard was a very high offseason priority, our team has worked tirelessly to ensure he would be returning,” Winter said in a statement. “This signing represents another successful step in our offseason progress as a club. Richard is an important player for our club. We know our fans will be excited to see Richard on the pitch.”

Though Eckersley had 18 months remaining on his contract with Burnley, he severed ties with the club by mutual consent on Wednesday. He put pen to paper on a four-year contract with Burnley in July 2009, but spent most of his time with the club out on loan, including stints with Plymouth Argyle, Bradford City, Bury and Toronto.