So Torsten Frings retired today from Toronto FC, Major League Soccer, football. Here’s Rollins:
“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.
Frings was a great footballer, one of the last pre-current 2000 academy reform national team stars, a dedicated career man.
He wasn’t a star by any stretch, but he left his mark, particularly with this stunning bit of ball-smash against Costa Rica in the first game of the 2006 World Cup:
But Frings also represented everything that’s wrong with player acquisition at certain MLS clubs. Frings was an aging Bundesliga star released from Werder Bremen who arrived at a club with a contradictory playing philosophy and a revolving door roster. Of course, everyone turned to him in hope. For many games he was far and away Toronto FC’s best player, which was a bit like being Michael Phelps on the Titanic (for strained analogies like this, please visit Counter Attack).
Even so, many within and without the club looked at him with puppy dog eyes to, you know, do something. He was Frings, goddamnit.
And he did carry the aura that follows around any player selected for a German national team in a World Cup. I’ll never forget taking my kid for a walk in the park and seeing Frings strolling along in full TFC kit, unnoticed except for some school kids (TFC was opening a local football pitch as part of their community work). I instinctively pulled my infant son out of his stroller and hoisted him up to see him: “He scored in a World Cup,” I said. “For Germany.” Generally members of that tiny club don’t casually walk down the street without a mass of local interest; this is why Frings apparently adored Toronto and MLS.
But Frings being Frings was bigger than TFC, and that was always the problem. Rejuvenating Frings’ flagging career at a young, ambitious club with clear, defined, realistic goals was never the front office game plan. Rather, it was for Frings to make the club better because, you know, German international, hello. Designated Player Slot!
As long as that’s still the blue print—TFC in perpetual global talent search, a club with a former DC United loyalist as head scout various former players as his foreign correspondents—it’s hard to see how this changes.