TORONTO – Given the recent Designated Player signings of Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, and Gilberto, in addition to bringing back Dwayne De Rosario, one might be tempted to use the term "superclub" when describing Toronto FC.
But despite the track record of the new TFC quartet, head coach Ryan Nelsen knows it will take time to mold his squad into a team that can dominate on the field the same way it has dominated the headlines recently.
“From when I first came in here to where this team is now, this is what I wanted and it was the end goal,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com on Monday following the introduction of Defoe and Bradley. “That’s why we did the things we did last season, so that we could be in a position like this.”
While not being shy in admitting that he is extremely happy with the manner in which the Reds' offseason has unfolded so far, the TFC gaffer was also quick to temper expectations and dispel the notion that his team would be an unbeatable force right out of the gate.
“We’re going to lose to teams that we shouldn’t lose to,” Nelsen said. “That is life when you are growing. What I do know is that there is a vision moving forward and we have a goal and that we have guys that are committed and dedicated to it.”
“Are we a finished product? Of course not,” he added. “We know where we are. We’ve got to get a winning culture in the team. We’ve got so many things to do. But we understand that and everybody at the club understands that.”
Ultimately, what has Nelsen feeling buoyant and hopeful about the upcoming season is his belief that all of the key players added to his team over the last several weeks bring with them not only considerable talent and skills, but also the character that Toronto will need to ultimately move on from in order to become the team that everyone now involved with the club envisions it to be.
Nelsen was effusive in his praise of the transformative qualities that Bradley and Defoe will bring to Toronto FC.
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“Everybody talks about Michael’s character and his determination and all that and it is such an unbelievable trait that he has,” Nelsen explained.
“He is an unbelievable football player – his range of passing, his vision, his play on both sides of the ball – he’s the whole total package. He knows MLS and has already proven he’s one of the best players that MLS has produced.”
“I always said to everybody that Jermain would be the perfect MLS striker,” the manager added about his former Tottenham Hotspur teammate.
“With the skills and attributes that he has and the weaknesses that I see in the MLS defenses, I think they collide very nicely. We got along really well at Tottenham, so I got to see firsthand what type of man he is, what type of player he is and what type of character he is.”
Daniel Squizzato contributed additional reporting to this story.