The Toronto media has been wondering for weeks how much longer it would be before Toronto FC Director of Soccer Mo Johnston fills his available roster spots.
Well, they finally got their answer.
On Saturday, Johnston brought in the first of what will be a few reinforcements with the signing of young Latvian defender Raivis Hscanovics.
The move comes in the aftermath of defender and captain Jim Brennan’s retirement Wednesday and ascendancy to the position of Johnston’s assistant manager.
Following the announcement, Johnston said he had offers tendered to two or three players and hoped to have one or more signed before Saturday night’s match at New England.
Hscanovics’ paperwork is in order and he should make his debut against the Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
“Raivis is a good, young defender that we hope to have with us for some time,” Johnston said in a statement issued by the club. “Despite his youth he brings some good experience with him from playing in some challenging leagues in Europe.”
The 5-10 native of Riga spent the last three seasons with FC Skonto in Latvia’s domestic league making 39 appearances.
Although the 23-year-old should slot right in with Toronto’s other young defenders, a competent veteran presence is what the club needs right now especially with the shaky Nick Garcia the lone greybeard at the back.
Granted, Hscanovics has professional experience, but the style of play in Latvia is different than in MLS.
Whether Johnston has a veteran defender up his sleeve is anyone’s guess—a report on Saturday claims Russian defender Maxim Usanov has a four-year deal in place—but the club can’t go well into the season with its current backline and expect to win many games. Though only one game in, the club is showing signs that goals may be in short supply for the foreseeable future. That will put the onus on the defense and second year goalkeeper Stefan Frei to keep the team in games.
More signings will come, including a striker, but how far back will Toronto be in the standings when he arrives? Plus, there’s no guarantee he’ll fit. Ali Gerba is a case in point last year and Carlos Ruiz the year before.
But the offense should be bolstered by the news that striker Chad Barrett has recovered from his foot injury and will be available against the Revs.
The hard luck striker should infuse some energy and tireless work up front and will be looking to improve upon a subpar 2009 season.
For goal-starved Toronto, the timing couldn’t be better.