Toronto FC welcomes new faces
There were plenty of introductions to be made Monday as the latest batch of new Toronto FC players took the field.
While most of the MLS team took part in an open practice in suburban Oakville, some new faces worked out at BMO Field.
"We were all like 'My name is Leandre. How long have you been here? Ah two days. Oh me, just one day,"' said French midfielder Leandre Griffit, acquired from the Columbus Crew last week.
"So it was kind of funny. But football is an easy way to meet people. .. The atmosphere is really good after even one day. You can feel it because a good thing is going on here."
The other newcomers included English defender Andy Iro, also acquired from Columbus, Canadian midfielder Terry Dunfield from Vancouver, and Jamaican midfielder-forward Ryan Johnson from San Jose.
Newly acquired designated players Torsten Frings (Germany) and Danny Koevermans (the Netherlands) also worked out under the fierce sun by Lake Ontario.
The changes under Toronto coach Aron Winter have been fast and furious in recent days.
"I'm excited and I think it's exciting for the Toronto fans as well," said Iro. "Just a completely new lineup, it's almost like that second season."
Johnson also likes the quality of players coming into Toronto.
"I don't see why we can't go out here and win on Wednesday," said the Jamaican international.
Toronto FC (3-9-9), off since a 2-0 loss in Houston on July 9, returns to action Wednesday against visiting FC Dallas (10-5-5).
While Griffit may be one of the few players on the Toronto roster who can make Columbus sound sexy -- it's Col-um-boooose coming out of his mouth -- he is just one of several newcomers looking to make the most of their second chance.
Griffit and Iro chafed under Columbus coach Robert Warzycha.
"I guess I can say whatever I want now and not be fined," Iro, who played 26 games last season and just four this year, said with a smile. "It was difficult. ... Coming into this season, there was a little bit of tension between me and the coach. And it just grew, and grew to a point where it was kind of untenable."
Iro asked for a trade, which didn't help the relationship either. But he says he learned from it.
"Honestly it was actually one of the better learning experiences I've had -- just seeing how to be a professional even when the situation isn't how you like it."
Griffit, meanwhile, played just four games for the Crew in two seasons.
"I need to show what I can do," said Griffit, who has spent time with teams in France, Belgium, England and Sweden. "Some players know what I can do but when the coach don't like the way you play, you can't change anything."
Dunfield, a Vancouver native, also found himself in different circumstances after Tom Soehn took over as Whitecaps coach for the fired Teitur Thordarson in May.
"When a new manager comes in, changes are normally made," Dunfield said. "I'm one of them and fortunately enough I was able to come here."