Toronto FC signed the Dutch trio of, from left to right, Javier Martina, Elbekay Bouchiba and Nick Soolsma.
Courtesy of Toronto FC

Bouchiba bringing leadership quality to Toronto

He’s only been signed by Toronto FC for a little more than a day, but midfielder Elbekay Bouchiba (pictured above, center) is not afraid to speak up when the Reds performance isn’t what it should be.

“There was no passion,” Bouchiba said of Toronto’s performance against the Charleston Battery at the Carolina Challenge Cup on Wednesday. The Reds lost 2-1 to the USL-Pro side.

Bouchiba was one of three Dutch players signed by TFC on Wednesday. Also joining the club were forward Javier Martina (above, left) and forward/midfielder Nick Soolsma. Where Martina provides Toronto with some much-needed speed on the wings and Soolsma is a first-rate prospect, Bouchiba’s greatest value could come from his leadership abilities.

“We were playing like we knew that that we didn’t need to win,” Bouchiba said. “I’m sure it will be different by the time we play Vancouver [on March 19], but you must always play with passion if you are going to win.”

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Despite Toronto’s preseason struggles, the veteran Dutchman found the challenge intriguing, which is why he didn’t hesitate when his former teammate Aron Winter reached out to him.

“I know that Aron can teach the players here a lot and I can still learn a lot from him,” Bouchiba said. “[Coming to Toronto] was not a difficult decision to make. From what I see in the team we have a good group here – I think we can play good football."

Bouchiba noted that the biggest adjustment for him coming from Europe and Qatar will to adjusting to the physical style of MLS, one he’ll overcome by relying on his 10-plus years of playing experience with some of the Netherlands’ biggest clubs.

“There are no excuses,” he said. “You have to deal with whatever [is put in front of you]. You are a professional. It’s your job to deal with it.”