Chris Hazard photo
Torsten Frings had the appearance of a man who was resigned to his fate.
There were no tears, no gulps of breath and no hesitation as the former German international said goodbye to an 18-year professional football career in a nondescript room far from the heartland of the sport.
“It's an emotional day for me today,” he said without much hint of emotion, “...it's the best for club and me."
And, with those words Toronto FC and Frings parted ways, freeing up a DP slot and nearly $400,000 of cap space for the Reds. According to GM and President Kevin Payne, the two sides will continue to work together, albeit informally.
Payne said that Frings would “help” TFC in Europe in the same way that former Red Amado Guevara is helping TFC in Honduras – a sort of undefined scouting role. Intriguingly Payne also suggested that TFC was looking to establish a relationship with the club most associated with Frings career, Werder Bremen.
Both Payne and Frings made it clear that the decision was based on the fact that he could no longer help TFC on the pitch.
“Retirement is best for me,” Frings said, “as I have a life I want after football.”
Payne indicated that every effort was made to make sure Frings was done as a player. The club had a physician who works with the Raptors and who specializes in hip injuries look at him. The doctor indicated that there as no sure thing when it came to how long it would take for Frings to be fully fit again. So, the decision was made to part ways.
In the end, Frings time in Toronto will be remembered as not fully formed. The team was terrible and he had clearly lost a step. Still, there were glimpses of his intelligence and technical skill.
He was at his best when he was cleaning up the mess at the back, despite playing out of his position.
Although Frings was not successful in MLS, he seemed to enjoy his time here. The only time during the press conference when he clearly showed emotion was when he started to talk about his overall experience.
"I just want to say thank you to the club, the city. I love Toronto,” he said, adding that he planned to come back frequently in the future.
With Frings gone it’s time for the rebuild to fully begin. TFC has more than $1-million of cap space and an undisclosed, but ample, amount of allocation.
The club also holds the No 1 selection in the returning player/US international allocation order. However, with just 16 players with professional experience at the MLS level or higher currently on the roster, the Reds will be starting the season very thin.
Payne talked about several players Toronto was close to signing, but did not indicate that any were happening today.
In fact, at one point, Payne suggested that today should be about honouring Frings career. And on that point, he was correct.
Although Toronto never saw Frings at his best he remains one of the most accomplished athletes to ever play for this city, in any sport.
And for that we say: Danke, Torsten