Long-time Werder Bremen defensive midfielder and German international Torsten Frings has been signed by Canadian side Toronto FC of MLS, the top-tier of footballing in the USA and Canada. The signings of Frings, 34, and Dutch striker Danny Koevermans, 32, were announced together as the two fill the two Designated Player slots that Toronto FC had open. Each MLS team is alloted three Designated Players on their roster, who tend to be higher-profile players from overseas.
Frings was born in Würselen, near Aachen, in 1976 and began his senior career with Alemannia Aachen in 1994. He headed to Werder Bremen for the 1996-1997 season and later spent two seasons with Borussia Dortmund and one with Bayern Munich. In 2005 he returned to Bremen. Frings played over 325 Bundesliga games for the Green-Whites in a career that totaled over 500 matches played in Germany in all competitions. A scorer of 67 goals, he played in 32 league matches for Werder in 2010-2011 along with six games in Champions League competition, scoring a total of seven goals.
Frings is also a noted German international, having earned almost 80 caps with the senior national team between 2001 and 2009, including appearances in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup. Frings is the first German star to play in MLS since Lothar Matthäus spent an uneventful season for the 2000 New york/New Jersey Metrostars.
Toronto FC have been supported well in their four years of existence by fans at BMO Field, but have yet to make the MLS playoffs. This year has been a struggle too, as Frings will be expected to improve their league’s worst defense (29 goals allowed) that dovetails poorly with Toronto’s inability to score goals (a MLS second-worst total of only 13).
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FSV Mainz 05 have acquired Austria Wien midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger. The 23 year-old native of Salzburg made over 60 appearance for the Austrian club since 2009 after spending time with 1860 Munich. He also has earned five caps with the Austrian national team.
1. FC Kaiserslautern are adding some attacking depth from Israel. Gil Vermouth, 25, has been signed on a four-year deal with the Red Devils for a 750,000 euro fee from Hapoel Tel Aviv. The Haifa native is an attacker, playing often on the wing, and has played nearly 150 matches for the Israeli club, scoring 21 goals and earning eight caps with the Israeli national team since 2009. He will be joined in Kaiserslautern by Hapoel Tel Aviv teammate Itay Schecter, 24, a 5’10” forward who scored 26 goals in 45 Israeli Premier League matches over the last year for Tel Aviv. Schecter also has international experience, having earned eight Israeli caps since 2009 also. The Red Devils had earlier added 18 year-old striker Konstantinos Fortounis from Greek Super League side Asteras Tripolis. Fortounis has also made three appearances with the Greek U-21 national team.
Defender Maik Franz will be heading east from demoted side Eintracht Frankfurt to Hertha Berlin, just promoted back to the Bundesliga. Franz, who turns 30 in August, is a hard-nosed, 6’3″ central defender who made 50 appearances for Eintracht since 2009 after previously playing for VfL Wolfsburg and Karlsruher SC.
FC Bayern Munich are bringing in attacker Takashi Usami on loan from J-League side Gamba Osaka. Usami just turned 19 in May but has already played 40 matches in Japan’s top league, scoring nine times. Bayern Munich will have the option of purchasing the youngster’s contract next summer from Gamba Osaka. Usami was named the J-League’s Best Young Player at a December awards ceremony, quite an accomplishment considering the burgeoning level of elite talent in Japan.
In other news, FC Schalke released veteran Bundesliga star and German international Gerald Asamoah after he returned from loan at St Pauli. One would think Asamoah, a long time member of Die Knappen, still has some gas left in the tank at age 32. He looked strong early in the Ruckrunde and scored six goals for St. Pauli.
Meanwhile ESPN Soccernet reports that EPL side Tottenham are anxious to get Stuttgart centerback Serdar Tasci in Spurs kit, according to Tasci’s agent. Also from ESPN Soccernet comes word that Wolfsburg’s Diego will be packing his bags soon. Surprised? Not many thought the relationship between the Brazilian playmaker and Coach Felix Magath would survive for long. Diego’s career seems to have taken a turn for the worst since leaving Werder Bremen for Juventus in 2009, and his return to the Bundesliga last season was hardly a huge success.