|Welcome Matias Laba to our team, our city and our country.|
Toronto Football Club announced today that they had signed Matias Laba, a 21-year-old Argentinian midfielder who had been playing for Argentinos Juniors.
You could list all the players who arrived in Toronto with a twinkle of promise (DeGuzman, Gerba, Mista, Iro, it is too painful to go on...).
Laba deserves to have a fresh welcome in Toronto. TFC fans have earned the right to be cynical, but the sour signings of the past were not made by a 21 year old from Argentina.
One of my favourite football quotes is "The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score" from Nick Hornby. Today is a day to transcend the natural state of the football fan and smile with a dreamy look in your eye. TFC under Payne and Nelsen is a very young team and Laba could be a very important piece of the puzzle.
I would argue that the secret ingredients that TFC has been lacking are direction; turning potential into on field improvements and having players who make others look better.
Signing a young designated player is part of Payne's direction. It is important to remember that for the TFC roster to have room for Laba, the trading of Eric Hassli and the graceful retirement of Torsten Frings had to happen. Laba was purchased from his Argentinian club. Usually the MLS avoids paying for players as if it were the sole reason for soccer being a lesser sport in America. This spending is another sign that it is part of Payne's plan.
Working on the "potential into improvement" part hopefully is reflected in the fact that it is easier to list the over 30 veterans (Califf, Earnshaw, Dunfield, Danny K) on the team than the U26 multitude.
Whether Laba is able to click with Silva, able to grow with Osorio, Bekker or Hogan and Bostock, able to feed Earnshaw and Danny K remains to be seen. TFC fans can look forward to seeing if these ingredients (and flavours yet to arrive) turn into a meal. Fingers are crossed that bitter disappointment will not be a part of our summer.
The sun is shining and the fans are dreaming.