As preseason continues Bob Bradley and Toronto FC have a lot of decisions to make.
The club claimed forward Adama Diomande off waivers on January 12. He joins Matt Hedges, Victor Vázquez, and Tomás Romero as the latest off-season roster moves, alongside the re-signing of Jonathan Osorio.
The 32-year-old striker brings a wealth of experience and familiarity with his new head coach who he previously worked with in Norway and in MLS at LAFC.
“Have you watched him play?” replied Bob Bradley, asked about the latest addition. “Dio is a striker that has speed, he's strong, he's got good timing to get into the box.”
“The year in Norway was incredible for him. He had gone to Dinamo Minsk, that hadn't gone well, he came back to Norway. Got to Stabæk late in preseason, literally a week or two before the first game, and in the first 22 matches he scored something like 25 goals (all told, Diomande scored 25 goals in 26 appearances),” he recalled. “And then on the last day of the transfer window he went to Hull, had some good periods there, played under a bunch of different managers, came to LAFC and again fit in really well.”
He tallied 24 goals and 11 assists in 52 appearances across all competitions with Los Angeles.
“The timing of his runs, his ability to receive balls on the move going forward, get into the box, and he's a good guy in the group. He's got a strong personality, he's experienced, he's smart, a good guy to have,” Bradley continued. “He was in China and then he was in Qatar and then he went back to Norway last year, trying to figure out what his next move would be.”
“He and I have had some good talks. His frame of mind, his motivation, are really good. He talks about being able to play for four or five more years because he feels physically he can still take care of himself,” he added. “I'm hopeful that we can turn it into a player who can make a big difference for us and add a lot to our team.”
MEDIA AVAILABILITY | Bob Bradley – January 17, 2023
Diomande is yet to join the group, instead he is training in Toronto as his visa is processed.
TFC now have four true forwards on the roster – Diomande, Jesús Jiménez, Ayo Akinola, and Jordan Perruza – each with a variety of skill sets.
“Having some flexibility helps the team,” Bradley explained. “Regardless of how you lineup up front, when you have different profiles, it means that you can change the game in different ways.”
“Ayo is a player, for example, who has played a lot as a 9, but we've also seen Ayo at different moments to tilt a little bit left or right and still have a presence to come in and get in the box. Jesús is versatile in that way. He can also come underneath a little bit more,” he outlined. “Jordan, even with TII last year, handled slightly different roles. That flexibility is important.”
A squad thrives on that internal competition, but Bradley noted the club has not settled on exactly what the roster composition will be when the season begins.
“Competition is good, but when all is said and done, we'll see how it works as we go through preseason and then try to determine what's best for everyone,” he said. “We're still in the midst of different discussions. Some signings are still out there for us with the possibility of improving in different positions and we're also very clear about the possibility that there may need to be some moves out, whether that's loans, whether that's trades in the league, whether that's transfers out of the league, a lot of that is still on the table.”
“It's important to put together the most complete roster, have the most depth, have the right group of guys,” Bradley added. “In many countries in Europe the window closes at the end of the month, but there are other places in Europe, Scandinavia for example, where the window stays open longer. The MLS window is open longer as far as players coming in, so we're in the early stages of trying to figure out how to get it right.”