TORONTO – One of the worst kept secrets in Toronto FC history was finally revealed on Wednesday.
“He's ready to go,” said TFC head coach Greg Vanney from training on Thursday ahead of Saturday's match against D.C. United (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). “We thought, about a month-and-a-half ago, that he was going to be able to sign. His situation was unclear. We finally got that sorted out. We're pleased to have him.”
The delay was due to the difficulty in procuring his International Transfer Certificate, which just arrived from Turkey following a financial issue – unpaid wages – with his previous club. Ricketts called the uncertainty “frustrating”.
His return to North America after a wandering career with stops in Finland, Romania, Norway, Turkey, and Israel, has been long in the making.
“I've been thinking about it for a while,” said Ricketts. “I spent a lot of time overseas. I felt like this was the right time to come back home.
"Back in March, my agent was in contact with a few clubs across Canada," Ricketts added. "TFC expressed interest."
For Toronto FC, Ricketts, renown for his speed as a former short-distance runner, will bring a much needed injection of urgency.
“He's a forward,” said Vanney, leaving little doubt as to where the 28-year-old Ricketts will feature. “He gives us an added element of speed, he's hard-working and diligent [tactically] on both sides of the ball. Great jumping ability, good header of the ball. Another guy who could be dangerous – in the box, in the air. We'll take those guys.”
“I don't know if you can have too many forwards,” said Vanney. “You never know exactly which are [in form]. You want to keep them in rotation.”
“He also brings experience,” added Vanney. “He's played in some challenging environments, internationally. He'll be ready to step on the field and perform.”
Not only has Ricketts had innumerable training sessions to work into the side, but he is also very familiar with BMO Field, as eight of his 12 goals for the Canadian national team have come at TFC's home ground.
“I'm familiar with [the city],” said Ricketts. “I've been here plenty of times with the national team, played many games at BMO Field, so the transition was easy. [I'm] fully settled and ready to go.”