TORONTO – Why add one when you can add two?
It was already known that Omar Gonzalez would be joining Toronto FC at the conclusion of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. The defender signed back on June 3, but come the morning of his introduction, it was also announced that Venezuelan winger Erickson Gallardo would be arriving, both as TAM reinforcements as the Secondary Transfer Window opened.
Gonzalez, a three-time MLS Cup Champion with the LA Galaxy, is proven in MLS. He arrives after three-plus seasons in Mexico to shore up the backline.
“Omar has the ability to help improve our aerial game,” said TFC general manager Ali Curtis, pointing to both ends of the pitch. “[Size] is an added benefit, not all the tools he has available to him. He's competitive, he's a fighter, has experience, tactically, technically. He enjoys defending.”
That has been a particular weakness for Toronto, who have conceded 33 goals this season, the fourth most in the Eastern Conference.
“He dominates in the air,” said Greg Vanney. “We've got to get some repetition in this week, so that the lines of communication and tendencies become clearer. I don't know if it will happen on day one, but we're going to push to get all of [defenders] connected as quickly as possible.”
Gonzalez would not reveal exactly what was said in a conversation between himself and Vanney about his role prior to signing.
“Greg gave me a clear picture of what the team is like, where he sees the team going and where I can fit into that picture. He sold me on coming here,” said Gonzalez. “Wherever you want me to play, I'll do it. I'll play my role; team comes first. On the left, on the right, it doesn't matter. I've got to step up; do what I've got to do to help the team get wins.”
In Gallardo, Vanney gets another winger he's long sought.
“Dynamic, quick, aggressive in the attack, trying to get in behind,” Vanney said of first impressions of the 22-year-old who arrived from Zamora FC in his home country. “He's going through that process of feeling everything out, getting to know his teammates and the language. He looks good, scored a great goal today. The thing is going to be how quickly he can adapt to new surroundings, new team, new style, new league.”
With Jacob Shaffelburg turning heads with his performances on the left, Gallardo provides balance on the opposite flank. Vanney is hoping, should Gallardo's international transfer certificate arrive in time, that he will be an available option come Saturday's match (7:30 pm ET | TVAS, TSN4 in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) against the Montreal Impact.
Additions in place, Toronto hold the seventh and final playoff spot in the East. They’re level on points (23) with the New England Revolution, though edge the club out with a better goal-difference.
“The goal every year is to make the playoffs, to make a run,” reiterated Curtis. “When I look at our team, I feel very good about it. We should have every opportunity to achieve the goals we set for ourselves going into the back half of the season.”