With all the hype about David Beckham coming to MLS, the media seems to have missed perhaps the biggest impact foreigner to sign with MLS in past several seasons. I am of course speaking of Juan Toja, the 22 year old midfield dynamo for the Hoops. Toja is probably the most skilled foreign player I have seen this season in the league. This includes such big name signings as Juan Pablo Angel and Guilermo Baros Scheletto both of whom have had a remarkable impact on the league. Toja has been so impressive that despite his low profile he was named an all star starter for the MLS over such notable midfielders as Landon Donovan.
Toja’s performance in last night’s dramatic 3-3 draw for FC Dallas versus DC United was a case in point. DC United took a 3-0 lead behind two excellent goals from another skilled foreign newcomer, Luciano Emilio. At that point Toja took over the match and dictated the tempo in midfield. Toja scored two goals and helped set up Carlos Ruiz for another as Dallas scored three goals in 29 minutes to escape RFK Stadium with a draw.
Toja’s outstanding performance has allowed FC Dallas supporters to not fret over the dumping of Ronnie O’Brien and Richard Mulrooney after last season. Toja, at just 22 provides a model for MLS contrary to that of Beckham, Angel and Scheletto. Those players all enhance the profile of MLS overseas, but Toja like Ryan Nelson and Stern John before him could be the type of player MLS scouts from smaller leagues (or in Nelson’s case from US colleges) and then sells to European clubs for a big profit. Since MLS is intent on spending money on the Beckham’s and Angel’s of the world, it is wise to have a financial safety net which can be achieved by good scouting of young Latin American talent.