Toronto FC adds Norwegian international defender, moves close to finalizing roster
Bordeaux's Nicolas De Preville, left, and Gent's Sigurd Rosted battle for the ball during the Europa League playoff, first leg, soccer match between Gent and Bordeaux at the KAA Gent Stadium in Ghent, Belgium, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Francois Walschaerts.
Neil Davidson , The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 7, 2023 11:54AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 7, 2023 1:02PM EST
Toronto FC's off-season shopping appears to be just about complete.
On Tuesday, the MLS club announced the signing of Norwegian international Sigurd Rosted, an experienced defender who is the latest piece in a rejigged backline.
The former Brondby IF centre back joins free agent signing Matt Hedges at the heart of the Toronto defence flanked by fellow newcomer Raoul Petretta and holdover Richie Laryea at fullback. Former New York City FC captain Sean Johnson, a key off-season free agent addition, starts in goal.
Rosted's signing had been expected since Brondby said farewell to the 28-year-old last week on its official Twitter account, saying the defender was travelling to Toronto "to negotiate his personal terms.''
Toronto, at the time, said nothing has been finalized yet.
It confirmed the move Tuesday, saying Rosted has signed a three-year deal with an option for 2026 using targeted allocation money.
"A smart player. Experienced. Reads the game well," Bob Bradley, Toronto's head coach and sporting director, told reporters in a virtual availability.
Rosted made 101 appearances in all competitions over four seasons with Brondby in the Danish top tier with five goals. He saw action in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League and won the 2020-2021 Danish Superliga title.
Rosted has five caps for Norway, scoring in his senior debut in a 1-0 win over Albania in a March 2108 friendly. The Oslo native started his club career in Norway before moving to Belgium's KKA Gent in January 2018, then transferring to Brondby in the summer of 2019.
At close to six foot three, Rosted adds height as well as experience and is a threat at set pieces.
Bradley says the club was "pretty close" to checking off all of the boxes on its off-season to-do list.
"We thought that we needed to solidify ourselves in some key positions — goalkeeper, central defence, left back. We still needed to find some ways to improve in the midfield and up front," he said. "So I think we've done good work to move in a good direction. We've added experience."
The newcomers "all have ways to make things better," he added. "They're good professionals. They're good guys."
There could be movement the other way. Bradley said the future of 18-year-old Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and 20-year-old Jayden Nelson is "still to be seen"
Nelson, who saw action in 31 leagues games last season including 25 starts, has been linked to a move to Norway's Rosenborg.
"Those discussions are ongoing. Nothing's final," said Bradley.
Rutty played in 17 MLS games in 2022.
In all, 11 players from last year's first team roster have already moved on after a 9-18-7 season that saw TFC finish 27th in the then-28-team league.
Goalkeepers Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg, who shared the starting job in recent seasons, joined D.C. United and Atlanta United, respectively. Veteran centre backs Chris Mavinga and Doneil Henry are wearing the colours of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Minnesota United.
Other newcomers this season are goalkeeper Tomas Romero and veteran Norwegian forward Adama Diomande. Toronto also welcomed attacking midfielder Victor Vazquez back into the fold after a four-year absence.
TFC is currently in Palm Springs, Calif., preparing for its opener Wednesday at the Coachella Valley Invitational pre-season tournament against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. The club has held a pair of closed scrimmages to date, against Mexico's Tijuana and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Bradley said everyone is available for Wednesday's game including Rosted, who had his first training session with the team Monday. Players will be restricted to 45 minutes.
Toronto, now based in Palm Springs, takes on Los Angeles FC on Saturday and the Portland Timbers on Feb. 15. TFC's season opener is Feb. 25 at D.C. United.