TFC expects Creavalle to push starters

Toronto FC's Warren Creavalle. (John Molinaro/Sportsnet)

TORONTO – What a crazy two weeks it’s been for Warren Creavalle.

The defensive midfielder went from starting in back-to-back games for the Houston Dynamo versus Toronto FC on July 12 and 19 to becoming a member of the Reds earlier this week.

Toronto acquired Creavalle, a 23-year-old native of Brooklyn, on Tuesday in a trade that saw the Canadian club send the top pick in the league’s allocation order to the Dynamo. Houston then turned around and used the allocation pick to sign American defender DeMarcus Beasley to a designated player contract.

The trade caught Creavalle, who could make his debut for TFC in Saturday’s home game against Sporting Kansas City, somewhat off-guard.

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“I’d been in Houston for the past two and a half years. … I was surprised but at the same time you can’t be too surprised because it’s a part of the business,” Creavalle told reporters after Friday’s practice.

He later added: “I’m definitely excited to be here. This is a beautiful city. … I’m ready to get after it.”

A product of the University of Central Florida, Creavalle was a second round pick (37th overall) of the Dynamo in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. He made his debut for the Dynamo that same year and went on to score three goals in 54 league games (32 as a starter) for Houston.

A defensive midfielder by trade, Creavalle can also play at left and right back, and anywhere across the midfield. It’s this ability to play a number of positions that led Toronto to go after him so hard.

“He’s a guy who has a lot of versatility. He’s an extremely good athlete; played all across the back line and the midfield. He’s at a lovely age at 23, but he’s got quite a bit of experience under his belt,” TFC coach Ryan Nelsen stated.

“It’s a really nice piece for us, not just in terms of depth and balance, but I think he’ll be pushing for a starting spot.”

That might be difficult in central midfield, his natural position, with Michael Bradley and Collen Warner firmly established as the club’s starters.

That doesn’t seem to bother Creavalle, though.

“There’s quality in this team and I’m excited,” he said. “There are some injuries right now so there’s a bit of shuffling around … I could be seeing time in midfield and defence throughout the year.”

With injured defenders Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom both expected to sidelined for at least a month, Creavalle’s arrival in Toronto is impeccable—although Nelsen insists the Reds had been tracking the former Houston midfielder long before Caldwell and Bloom suffered their injuries.

“We’ve been watching Warren for a number of months. He’s always been on our target board,” Nelsen explained.

Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko called it a “win-win for both clubs,” as the Dynamo went to the top of the allocation order and signed Beasley, while the Reds added some midfield depth.

Creavalle has been used primarily as a midfield stopper by Houston, but said he doesn’t have a preference where he plays for TFC, who he described as “very explosive” in attack.

“The firepower that the team has is great. This team is looking strong in the (Eastern Conference) so I just hope I can contribute to that,” Creavalle offered.

NOTES: Toronto FC announced Friday that Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar is no longer on loan at the club, and that he has returned to Queens Park Rangers… Brazilian winger Jackson is fit again after being sidelined with an Achilles injury. Nelsen said he will be available for selection against Kansas City… Jermain Defoe is suspended for Saturday’s contest due to yellow card accumulation… Tyler Pasher, a product of Toronto FC’s youth academy who recently spent time with Lansing United of the fourth-tier National Premier Soccer League, is training with Toronto FC. Nelsen said the club is looking at the Canadian defender and considering signing him to a contract.

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