TORONTO — Just one game into Toronto FC’s midseason makeover and one thing is clear: Designated Player Torsten Frings is TFC’s undisputed leader on the pitch.
Considering the midfielder had not played since late May, Frings put forth a strong showing in Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to FC Dallas, exhibiting skill, vision and leadership.
“Torsten has done very well,” TFC manager Aron Winter said. “You can notice on the pitch that he’s always asking for the ball. And he sees the game so well. He needs maybe another game then he will be very sharp. But today he played very well and he made possibly the difference on the pitch.”
VIDEO: Torsten Frings following his MLS debut.
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Losing to a team like Dallas on a solitary bolt by MVP candidate Brek Shea was no shame for a Toronto FC team that was working five new players into the starting lineup with little training time together.
Frings and fellow DP Danny Koevermans played the full 90 minutes on Wednesday and notwithstanding the positive spells, Winter realizes it will still take some time for the team to gel.
“I think in one or two games,” Winter said after the match.
Frings, a former German international, and Koevermans, a former Dutch international, were signed June 29 but the match against FC Dallas was the first game in which they were cleared to play following the opening of the MLS international transfer window on July 15.
“It’s difficult because the team has played together for only one practice,” Frings said through a translator. “This is a young team and I want to show them leadership and give them confidence and motivation because they’re kind of on a losing streak right now.”
Frings felt that Toronto played toe-to-toe against Dallas, “a team that is very strong” in MLS.
“He keeps the game flowing,” said center back Andy Iro, who also was playing his first game for TFC after he was obtained in a trade last Friday from Columbus. “Once he gets a couple more games under his belt, gets accustomed to the MLS tempo, there's no reason why he can't show his quality for the rest of the season.”
Iro pointed out that it took a while for him to settle into the game.
[inline_node:7407]“It was definitely difficult the first half adjusting to the tempo and field,” Iro said. “I was actually fairly pleased with the first half because we restricted them to a couple of long-range efforts.
“In the second half it started to open up and Dallas is a team that you can’t allow that space because they’re so athletic. In the second half we pushed forward and we had some great opportunities and they had some great opportunities and they ended up winning on a great goal.”
Shea’s goal for the visitors came four minutes after halftime but Toronto FC worked hard for an equalizer and come close on multiple occasions.
“It was an amazing goal,” Koevermans said of Shea’s strike. “We stayed in the game. We fought really hard. I think when we can train more together then we will get a result.”
Also playing their first game for Toronto FC were forward Ryan Johnson, obtained from San Jose last week, and defender Eddy Viator, a Guadeloupe international who was signed on Wednesday after completing a trial. He filled in at right back for the suspended Richard Eckersley.
“It took a little bit of time,” Johnson said. “Probably not until the middle of the first half did we started to knock the ball around and really know where we wanted to be and where we wanted the ball and little things like that. So it’s going to take time. Hopefully it doesn’t take too long.”