TORONTO – With Toronto FC's announcement Thursday of the acquision of Swiss defender Jonas Elmer, the 25-year-old left back became the second International player to sign with TFC within the last week.
The additions of Elmer and Spanish winger Álvaro Rey during the current transfer window will now provide TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen with new options at the outside back and wide midfield positions, as well as increased competition for spots at positions on the roster where Toronto had not previously enjoyed a lot of depth.
“Obviously it will be up to Jonas to force his way into the team,” Nelsen told reporters following training on Friday. “We need to have two guys at every position to provide competition. Nobody has a guaranteed position and everybody has to try and fight really hard in training to keep their spot. We want really healthy competition.”
Canadian international Ashtone Morgan is the current incumbent at the left back position for TFC and he will now battle his new Swiss teammate for minutes.
According to Elmer, who can play at both left back and at the left wing position, the deal to sign with Toronto came together quickly and was at least in part motivated by one of the biggest names ever to play in MLS.
“My agent in Switzerland told me that this club really needed a left back,” Elmer told MLSsoccer.com. “That was one week ago and now I have just finished my first training session. That’s how it works in football sometimes. It just happens very quickly.”
“When David Beckham arrived here [back in 2007], you could see the video in Europe and see what a fantastic league it is here,” Elmer added. “It just fascinated me and that’s why I decided to come here.”
While Rey made his first MLS appearance just a few days after signing with Toronto last week, Elmer was not sure on Friday whether or not he would see his first action in his new league when TFC face off against the New England Revolution in a rare Sunday evening fixture (7:30 pm ET, watch on MLS Live).
“It’s not my decision,” Elmer said. “I arrived yesterday at night and I’m just happy to be here now. My fitness is good. The season in Switzerland started three weeks ago, so I have had a full preseason and played three games there.”
With his signing, Elmer becomes the second Swiss player after long-time goalkeeper Stefan Frei to don a TFC kit.
According to TFC president and general manager Kevin Payne, Toronto FC could add more Swiss players in the future as the Reds brain trust works to build a young competitive team in Toronto.
“We have set up some relationships in Switzerland and we like the Swiss League,” Payne said. “It has some similarities to our league and the prices aren’t out of sight, so it appears to be a good place to look for talent. I think we will look for certain kinds of players there, particularly backs and wide players.”