By picking Califf, TFC finally get veteran backline leader

Toronto FC tried to trade for defender Danny Califf when he was with the Philadelphia Union last season, but he was sent to Chivas USA instead.

This time, Toronto got their man after making Califf the first pick overall in the Stage 2 Re-Entry Draft on Friday. He was the only player taken by Toronto.

The 32-year-old native of Montclair, Calif., has already signed and will fill a need as an experienced defender who can team in the center with Republic of Ireland international Darren O’Dea.

“He ticks a number of boxes,” director of team and player operations Earl Cochrane told MLSsoccer.com on Friday. “We had a void that we needed to fill on defense and he filled that. You’re always in the hunt for leadership and experience. He ticks those boxes. He`s an incredible character. He takes care of himself a great example for young pros. All around a great acquisition for us.”

READ: Re-Entry Draft Stage 2 complete results

Last year ,when both Toronto and Chivas were trying to get him from Philadelphia, Califf made it clear that he wanted to go to Chivas. But Cochrane said that reluctance is a thing of the past.

“I think that got overblown a little bit,” Cochrane said. “We were looking to see if we could get him last year and then when facing the opportunity of maybe going back to California or coming here. …Don’t forget at the time we were maybe 0-7 and Chivas had started off pretty well and things looked like they weren’t going to be that rosy here at the start and that probably played into it a little bit.

“We’ve have conversations, he’s really excited about this. He’s looking at it as the next chapter in his career. He’s a great guy. You have a conversation with him and you understand that he’s a guy who is going to be able to lead by example, lead in the locker room, pass along a lot of his experience and guile to the younger players. He just fills a void that we’ve had.”

TRANSCRIPT: Re-Entry Draft pick-by-pick commentary

Califf broke into the league in 2000 with the LA Galaxy, moved to San Jose in 2005 and spent the next four years in Denmark before returning to MLS in Philadelphia in 2010.

TFC also announced after the draft they had re-signed defender Jeremy Hall and forward Andrew Wiedeman after declining their options. Hall and Wiedeman, who went through last Friday’s first phase of the draft, were removed from the second phase.

Two of the three Toronto players in Friday’s draft were taken, with midfielder Eric Avila going to Colorado and defender Ty Harden to San Jose. Defender Adrian Cann was not taken.