By Frank Boateng
It’s a bloody big deal.
“Defoe said to the media he is fit and ready to play,” said FAN590 TFC reporter Dan Riccio.
There is great morale all around as Toronto FC big signing, Jermain Defoe, is set to make his first appearance for the Major League Soccer club which has failed to reach the playoffs in seven years.
“The excitement is through the roof,” said Riccio.
“Anytime you can bring in a player like Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley, there’ going to be a lot of excitement between the players. I think this team knows that this can be something special for years to come if they put the work in and get things right.”
There is no doubt that the England and ex-Tottenham Hotspur striker, Defoe will bring the scoring quality that TFC has been lacking in the years following the retirement of striker Danny Dichio, who scored the first goal in team history.
“Defoe has scored every single place he has ever played,” said Riccio.
“He is just a goal scoring machine. He has done it consistently throughout his career and I think that will continue with TFC, and that’s been one of their biggest downfalls throughout the years, is that they haven’t been able to score enough goals.”
Toronto FC has had disastrous results since the club was established in 2007.
Last season, under new head coach Ryan Nelson, the team finished 17th place in a 19 team league with a record of six wins, 17 losses and 11 ties, the second worst in franchise history.
Following the end of the season, newly appointed President and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiweke promised the soccer club will end its seven year playoff drought this year.
During a press conference to address the state of Toronto sports team, Leiweke said a change was coming and that Toronto FC would be the first to see it.
“Mark it down, write it down, film it. We are going to turn TFC around and we are going to make the playoffs next year,” said Leiweke.
Tim Leiweke wasted no time putting validity behind his promise.
On Dec. 13, 2013, just six months after taking the position as CEO, Leiweke made his first signing, spending over $3 million on Brazilian striker, Gilberto Oliveira Souza Junior.
His next signing, the biggest in MLS history, came in the form of England and ex Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe.
He signed a four-year contract but was initially loaned back to Tottenham until Feb. 28.
With Defoe’s contract finalized, Tim Leiweke set his sights on another signing in Serie A club AS Roma and United States national team midfielder, Michael Bradley.
With the three newly acquired players, the playoff push that Leiweke had vowed months before seems that much more realistic.
Dan Riccio, like every TFC fan, is optimistic that the club will finally see playoff soccer.
“I absolutely agree they will make the playoffs, if they don’t its a major disaster,” said Riccio.
“They’ve spent more money than any MLS club has ever spent on players. You look at that and you look at the squad and say well, this is a team that should at least get into the playoffs, and that’s really where you have to set the bar.”
TFC will take on the Seattle Sounders on March 15 as they kickoff their season.