Can 'Popeye' Pack A Punch?

The signing of Spanish forward Mista should excite Toronto fans for a couple of reasons.

First, some greatly needed experience, competition and depth will be added to the Toronto attack as Preki has already built a strong team from the back.

The second – and this is a wild card – is that the last time Toronto added a 6 ft tall, 31-year old striker from Europe, things worked out relatively well with that player.

[inline_node:4160]Revisiting the first reason, it’s true that this is not the same dominant Mista of Valencia that helped Rafael Benitez to two La Liga titles in the Spanish top flight. His past injury concerns will also weigh heavily on the minds of many.

Mista in his Atletico Madrid days. Mista in his Atletico Madrid days. One can point to his strike rate of recent years at Deportivo La Coruna and Atletico Madrid and wonder if this is the solution to Toronto’s goal scoring woes.  But Europe’s top tier such as Spain’s La Liga is a world apart from Major League Soccer.

At the heels of Beckham-mania, some doubted the Juan Pablo Angel signing at New York for his inability to light up the English Premier League (14 goals in his final 89 EPL appearances).  The only people that begrudge that signing today are those tasked to mark him on the pitch. 

Mista is a different type of player than the electric Angel but can be effective in other ways if he works to his strengths. On set-pieces, he can be a target man in this league as Toronto seeks an aerial presence in the final third.  From open play Mista can hold up the ball using his frame, which will allow Toronto to have a more robust attack.

The wild card in this signing is can Mista provide that Danny Dichio effect? 

When Dichio arrived four years ago, few knew of the big man to finish so effortlessly around goal when given the chance. Immediately upon entering the league he proved a handful for MLS defenders and Dichio was exactly what Toronto needed in its inaugural season.

Four years later as the Reds cling to a playoff position and sit within striking distance of the Eastern Conference summit, Toronto needs another forward to pull similar heroics near the opposition goal.

Nicknamed ‘Sean Penn’ for having similar features as the Hollywood actor, Mista may not provide the same glamour he once did at Valencia, but any significant punch that ‘Popeye’ (his other nickname) can provide to the attack will be most welcome.

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