TORONTO – Toronto FC's "not-so-secret weapon" has made his presence known in a short time.
That knack for the dramatic has carried into the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, where Ricketts set up Jozy Altidore's winner against New York City FC in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinal before adding a crucial second, giving TFC a healthy advantage heading into the second leg and earning the praise of coach Greg Vanney.
Along with Armando Cooper, another midseason addition, Ricketts has brought a fresh verve to the club.
“Anytime you bring in guys in the summer, it motivates the group,” said Will Johnson after Thursday's training session. “Both excellent players, [both have] international experience within CONCACAF. I've always thought Tosaint could play for any MLS team, given his strengths. And Armando is the same. They been to some tough places to play, have experience, so things don't faze them. They're older, experienced players that help you win big games.”
Said Altidore: “[Ricketts] has been invaluable. He's another goal threat, has a lot of qualities that I don't possess, and Seba as well. He's a handful. The point he came in the season was crucial. He's scored some big goals, and I'm sure he'll score some more.”
Now settled, Ricketts draws on parallels from his European experience to help guide him through his first MLS postseason.
“It's different from what I've experienced in Europe,” said Ricketts. “I compare it to my time in Romania, where we were fighting for the championship. It came down to last few games, we needed results … same mentality there. When I was Israel, we were battling relegation, it came down to the last two games, needed results. Same concept, different format.”
“Anything to get the result. If you got to bleed for it, scratch for it; anything to get that goal, get the edge,” he said. “Anything about yourself is out the door, it's everything for the team.”
While playing in Turkey, Ricketts experienced the same pressure – and the same tightly-knit dynamic between club and fans that has taken root at BMO Field.
“Here it's just that little bit more,” he said. “We're fully connected with the supporters. It feels like we're all together in this fight.”
He says that shared vision has united the squad.
“We're fully together, we are one,” said Ricketts, alluding to TFC's "All For One" motto with a smile. “That's the beauty of the playoffs, it brings everybody closer together, tighter. It's a special feeling.”
After a wandering career that included stints with seven clubs in five countries, the Edmonton, Alberta native has found a new home on the shores of Lake Ontario.
“I'm the happiest I've been in my career,” revealed Ricketts. “I've never felt this happy at a club. To have that type of passion so fast – usually it takes a year or so … it came instantly here. From being home, being in my environment. It's just great to be back in Canada, I love this country.”