TORONTO — Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter was looking for leadership for his struggling team, and he feels he finally found the perfect men for the role.
On Wednesday, TFC announced the signings of German international midfielder Torsten Frings and Dutch international forward Danny Koevermans as the club’s newest Designated Players.
“This is a big day for us,” Winter said when the two new players were introduced Wednesday at a media conference at BMO Field. “In the system that I want to play, it’s very important that each line has a leader.”
In that regard, the only thing remaining on Toronto’s checklist is a leader for the back line. But Winter indicated that need could soon be addressed by picking up an American or Canadian player already in Major League Soccer.
“There are going to be more changes,” Winter said succinctly.
Winter said he has been considering adding two more DPs — midfielder Julian de Guzman is the other — since he took the job as TFC’s head coach and technical director in January.
Winter and the rest of the Toronto FC braintrust discussed many possible options at the time but decided not to go that way just then because they wanted the right kind of players, players who were willing “to be part of the rebuilding process” and not just looking for that last pay day at the end of their careers.
“They have to fit into the system that we’re starting,” Winter said. “DPs have to make a difference with leadership and fit in the system.”
Thus, signing Frings and Koevermans is what TFC director of player development Paul Mariner called “a massive step” for the club, both on the field and in terms helping the younger players come along.
“From a development of players view point, to bring players in of the calibre of Torsten and Danny, it’s going to be big for the young players,” Mariner said. “They are going to have some unbelievable role models to look up to.
“Having spent the best part of the last 36 hours with both players, I know that they are the right people, the right calibre of people, because contrary to popular belief, players like this don’t grow on trees,” Mariner added. “I know there are a lot of players available now with contracts ending over in Europe, but you’ve got to sift through and go through the right character as well as the right abilities.”
While the club is clearly excited with their two new, high-profile additions, just where the acquisitions of the two DPs leaves the club’s other Designated Player, de Guzman, isn’t yet clear. Winter, though, did say the Canadian international is a “valuable player.”
De Guzman has not played for TFC since returning from the CONCACAF Gold Cup — where he was a part of the Canadian side that was eliminated in the group stage — because of a calf injury. However, he did train with the club on Tuesday.
Frings and Koevermans are not eligible to play for TFC until July 15, meaning their MLS debuts could be against FC Dallas on July 20 at BMO Field.