TORONTO – Miguel Aceval appears to be the final piece of the puzzle in Toronto FC’s offseason project to bolster a defense that last year was porous and depleted by injury.
The 29-year-old lefty from Santiago, Chile, offers plenty of versatility to TFC head coach and technical director Aron Winter. Aceval can play the left side of central defense as well as left back and is also capable of playing the left side of midfield if needed. Additionally, his track record in Chile shows he is capable on set pieces.
“He’s a guy who has a very good left foot,” Winter said after training on Tuesday. “In Chile, he has made many goals with free kicks.”
But aside from being “a go-to guy on free kick,” as Aceval described himself through a translator, what TFC like about him is his experience – he received his first call-up from Chile last September in a 1-0 loss to Mexico – and his work rate.
“[I’m] a very relaxed player who likes to come up from the back to give the team an option working their way forward,” he said. “[I’m] very comfortable coming out and playing, not only as a center back who plays to the left side, but also at left fullback. [I’m] used to going up and down the field.”
Aceval, who also noted he is very comfortable with the ball at his feet, can also play a left-sided holding midfielder.
The signing of Aceval on Monday followed the announcements of the return of right back Richard Eckersley on a permanent basis after playing last season on loan from Burnley and the signing of Ecuadorian central defender Geovanny Caicedo.
“[Bolstering the defense was] important because last season, we had so many goals against – it was a position where we were weak,” Winter said, referring to the league-worst 59 goals TFC conceded in 2011.
Central defense became a problem last season when Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams were lost to injury. Though Cann could be ready for a March return, the timeline for each player has yet to be determined.
In the meantime, Winter said he is now “very satisfied” with the state of the back line and the depth he has there.