Braz: Toronto start summer window strong and they're likely not done yet

Omar Gonzalez and Erickson Gallardo - Toronto FC - summer 2019

Former Montreal Impact technical director and player, Adam Braz, joins to break down all the big moves during the 2019 summer transfer window.

Toronto FC entered the secondary transfer window knowing full well they needed more pace from wide positions and they wasted no time in signing Erickson Gallardo on the first day of the summer window.

The 22-year-old wide attacking forward from Venezuela should prove a dynamic threat and with teams now required to respect the danger Gallardo represents, more space should open up for Toronto’s central attacking players: Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Pozuelo and Jonathan Osorio. Gallardo will be expected to take defenders on, make runs in behind and deliver good service in the box.

TFC did their homework.

They’ve been scouting Gallardo since January 2019 and by now they know plenty about Gallardo’s characteristics as a player, and just as important, as a person. According to insiders I've spoken to, Toronto originally had their sights set on another player in the primary winter transfer window, but they continued to track Gallardo and eventually pulled the trigger on the signing. This is not uncommon at this level with clubs typically pursuing multiple targets concurrently. A solid, organized scouting infrastructure put Toronto FC in position to close on Gallardo when their primary target fell through.

Gallardo is the latest import from Venezuela, which has rapidly become a prime market for MLS clubs with player valuations proving more attractive compared to pricier South American markets. But Toronto still used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to sign Gallardo, a sign that he came at a relative premium. The nature of the signing tells me there’s no doubt Toronto will want to see Gallardo grow into a key player over the next few years and to become a regular with the Venezuelan national team, which would only increase his value on the world market.

And with more than 100 games in the Venezuelan first division, Toronto FC fans can be optimistic that Gallardo should have the necessary professional experience and confidence to adjust quickly to his new environment. The onboarding process that Toronto FC have implemented will only help his acclimation.

And I don’t think the Reds are done after Omar Gonzalez and Gallardo.

TFC’s ownership have a track record for investing in their roster with Gallardo being the most recent example. And sporting director Ali Curtis has already stated that the Reds could make another TAM signing during this window. With one senior roster slot available along with two international slots, TFC didn't stop there. They traded Jordan Hamilton, one of their international spots, $50k in TAM and a right of first refusal for an unnamed player in exchange for experienced forward Patrick Mullins of the Columbus Crew.

Toronto acquired a striker with MLS experience who can provide cover when Altidore is out of the lineup — and Mullins has shown he can score goals in bursts. Columbus, meanwhile, got a player who Crew GM Tim Bezbatchenko knows well from his time in Toronto and who could probably use a change of scenery.

TFC had the luxury of holding two extra international slots, so they could afford tossing one of them into this deal. And it's important to note that Columbus will not have to use this international slot on Hamilton since the Canadian player will be considered a domestic player for the Crew under the Homegrown International Rule which is explained in the 2019 MLS roster rules. This allows Columbus to use the newly acquired international slot on another transaction during the window.

Make no mistake: The moves for Gonzalez, Gallardo and Mullins to open the transfer window are a statement of intent to the rest of the league that Toronto FC are ready to hit the ground running in the second half of the season. And after an important win in Week 19 against their heated rivals, Toronto FC now have three straight matches at home which will go a long way toward determining just how high Toronto will be able to rise.

Adam Braz served as the Technical Director of the Montreal Impact from 2015 to 2018, overseeing soccer operations and managing the MLS club's salary budget, player signings and negotiations among other duties. The former Canadian international moved into the front office after a playing career that saw him feature in USL, MLS and Scandinavia.