Jermain Defoe Paying Off for Toronto FC
Toronto made big moves in the off-season, picking up Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe and Roma midfielder Michael Bradley for a pretty penny in an attempt to make a run at an MLS championship. The club will be without Bradley for a while as he’s off to captain the U.S. National Team at the World Cup, but barring injury to an England striker, Defoe will be at the team’s disposal for the rest of the season. Thus far the season has been a mixed bag for Toronto with four wins and four losses. The effort from Defoe, on the other hand, has been superb.
Defoe has long been one of the deadliest strikers in the English Premier League, scoring 78 goals for Tottenham in his most recent stint at White Hart Lane from 2009-2014. The 31-year old has picked up well since being dubbed surplus to needs at Spurs, scoring four goals in five games for Toronto. In his first contest, Defoe bagged a brace against Seattle Sounders FC to lead Toronto to a 2-1 win as well as earning himself MLS Player of the Week honors. A week later, he scored again — this time in a 1-0 win over DC United. Defoe’s latest goal was a screamer into the top-right corner against the New York Red Bulls that was nominated for MLS Goal of the Week:
The man is small in stature at only 5’5, but Defoe is still one of the best finishers in the game. His introduction into Major League Soccer is much like that of his former teammate at Spurs, Robbie Keane. The Irish national player was ready to move on after consecutive loan spells away from North London, falling out of the good graces of manager Harry Redknapp — in part due to Redknapp’s preference of Defoe up top. Keane has shined since his move to the L.A. Galaxy, and was an integral part of two MLS Cup wins over the Houston Dynamo in 2011 and 2012.
Defoe will be looking to make that same sort of impact, but instead of doing it with the most successful club in Major League Soccer, he’ll be doing it with a team that has only been in existence for seven years. Toronto was one of the worst clubs in the league in 2013, scoring only 30 goals in 34 games for a 9th place finish. The team needed offense in a big way, and brought in a combination of goal scoring and passing that should help them climb that Eastern Conference ladder this season. When Bradley comes back from the World Cup, Defoe will be in mid-season form and the rest of the league will have to deal with one of the best duos in MLS history.