TORONTO – All season long, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen has said that the players in roster slots 12-25 are just as important as his starting 11, and his side continues to add quality depth in the summer window after picking up versatile Houston Dynamo midfielder/defender Warren Creavalle midweek.
Creavalle was in training with Toronto on Friday sporting the No. 3 shirt and Nelsen says he will be available for Saturday's match against Sporting Kansas City (7 pm ET, TSN2/RDS2 in Canada, MLS Live in US). Month-long injuries to captain Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom have opened up space in the backline, but Nelsen says the trade wasn’t a reaction to those losses.
“We were always looking for a player like Warren to come in,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “When you’ve got those injuries, it kind of makes it a wee bit more obvious, you know, but even if we were 100 percent fully fit, a guy like Warren Creavalle, at his age, with his versatility, [offers us] a lot more experience.”
Creavalle spoke with reporters in Toronto for the first time and said the trade was a surprise, especially since his Dynamo side had just finished off a double-header against Toronto over the last two weeks.
“That is a bit of a weird one right there,” Creavalle said, of the trade’s timing. “All those emotions you get with playing and then you’re switching. But I welcome this transition.
“I was in my Houston training facility and Dom [Kinnear] called me into his office and we talked then. I was surprised. I’d been in Houston for the past two-and-a-half years. You know it’s a part of the business, you just never know when it’s going to happen.”
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Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko hinted earlier in the month that the team was looking to make one more trade after a busy summer that has seen Dominic Oduro, Luke Moore and Collen Warner join Toronto FC.
This particular trade coincided with the return of DaMarcus Beasley, who joined the Houston Dynamo as a Designated Player. Toronto FC sat first in the allocation order for returning players, so Houston sent Creavalle to Toronto in exchange for the spot and allocation money.
“To get those guys, it’s pretty hard to get them, to tell you the truth, in this league,” Nelsen said. “To be able to get him is great. He’s not even at his prime yet, he’s a young man at 23, and so we see a lot of upside to his potential as well. He’s a guy that has a lot of versatility. He’s an extremely good athlete and he’s played all across the back line and across the midfield. He’s got quite a bit of experience under his belt, a lot of MLS games under his belt.”
Creavalle might just see action on Saturday at BMO Field. Despite a few injuries, Toronto FC will be boosted by the return of Jackson, who missed the last game with a hamstring injury. But they’ll be without top striker Jermain Defoe, who is suspended from yellow card accumulation.