FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The impending arrival of Juan Toja will further increase the diverse assortment of options available in the New England midfield, and Revolution coach Jay Heaps is perfectly happy to have such a glut of midfielders at his disposal.
Toja joined the Revs through the allocation process on Monday and will link up with the team as soon as he receives his P1 work visa and his international transfer certificate.
Once the two-time MLS All-Star arrives on the scene, Heaps must sort through a crowded midfield picture that already includes Fernando Cárdenas, Ryan Guy, Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe and Clyde Simms to find a place for the Colombian international.
The impending selection headache doesn't trouble Heaps given the type of impact Toja is expected to make on the side.
“We want to have great versatility and we want to have great options,” Heaps told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday morning. “There's no doubt about it.”
Toja's success during his previous spell in the league suggests he falls into both categories. Although Toja normally features as an attacking midfielder or on the left flank, Heaps said he views the 27-year-old as a potential option anywhere through midfield given the qualities he adds to the team.
“Great engine, great engine, left-footer, can play wide left, wide right, can play defensive or attacking,” Heaps said as he recounted the times he played against Toja while the midfielder plied his trade for FC Dallas in 2007 and 2008. “He's dynamic in each of those positions in a different way.”
It may take a little time for Toja to display all of those tendencies on a regular basis. He hasn't played in a league match since departing Greek side Aris earlier this year. The lengthy layoff from first-team football may force the Revs to take a cautious approach with their new player, according to Heaps.
“I spoke with the player [about his fitness],” Heaps said. “He's physically fit, but is he soccer fit? We'll see when he gets here. … It's going to be about working with him at the right speed.”