TORONTO – Quincy Amarikwa didn’t waste any time ingratiating himself to his new club’s fanbase. Well, that’s not entirely correct.
To be more precise, Amarikwa (above left) waited seven hours, give or take a half hour or so, to open his Toronto FC account and earn the approval of Reds fans.
After arriving in Toronto from New York – who he never actually played for after being released by the Rapids – via trade Saturday morning, TFC manager Paul Mariner gave the striker his first run out as a second-half substitute against Liverpool, a decision Amarikwa rewarded with a 58th-minute, go-ahead goal.
“You couldn’t ask for much more than that,” the 24-year-old told reporters afterward, a smile plastered on his face following the 1-1 draw.
Mariner was also clearly pleased by the contribution of the newest addition to a forward corps that had become increasingly thin following a season-ending injury to Danny Koevermans.
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After acquiring Eric Hassli from Vancouver on Friday for a 2014 first-round pick and an international roster spot, Mariner sent a conditional pick to the Red Bulls for the pacey Amarikwa, who immediately gave Liverpool problems with diagonal runs in behind the backline after coming on a halftime.
His goal, however, was based on solid instincts rather than his physical gifts, as Amarikwa cleaned up a rebound from Sergio Camargo’s shot.
“[Speed] is exactly what he brings,” Mariner said. “He’s got the aerial leap. He gets up well. He holds the ball well. He’s a small guy but he’s very very strong. It was a classic center forward’s goal. Always follow the shot in, and he did that. I’m very happy for him.”
Amarikwa arrived in Toronto after Sebastian Le Toux’s arrival at Red Bull Arena made him surplus to requirements for coach Hans Backe. He didn’t seem to mind Saturday evening, however, cognizant of the fact that the Reds have a packed schedule the rest of the way with plenty of minutes up for grabs.
“I’m excited to get involved and become an integral part of this team,” Amarikwa said. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season, especially with [CONCACAF Champions League] and domestic side of the league as well. I know these guys are coming off a three-game unbeaten streak, and I hope we can continue that.”
He’ll have plenty of work to do to earn a place in the lineup, though. With Hassli now in the fold and Ryan Johnson and Luis Silva combining well in recent games, Mariner now has some opinions when it comes to filling out his lineup card.
And, as always for the Englishman, it simply comes down to which players are on form, a policy which suggests Amarikwa may yet force his way in sooner rather than later.
“You know my philosophy on the team. If we are successful, then people have got to break in. Once you get your chance, then away you go,” Mariner said. There’s no doubt that [Eric Hassli] is going to be a fantastic signing for us. We’ve got three or four guys now for a couple of spots. It’s very good for us.”