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Toronto FC signs Spanish veteran Mista

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The Canadian Press
7/6/2010 9:32:09 AM
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TORONTO -- Toronto FC has dipped into Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's coffers, signing Spanish forward Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez as its second designated player.

The 31-year-old known as Mista has played all his soccer in Spain, most recently with Deportivo La Coruna where he played alongside midfielder Julian de Guzman, Toronto's first designated player.

The Spaniard will be looking to spark a career that has stalled in recent years in La Liga.

Mista enjoyed his best seasons with Valencia from 2001 to 2006. He won two Spanish league titles there and scored 19 goals in the 2003-04 season.

Mista helped manager Rafa Benitez win the UEFA Cup that season, scoring a highlight-reel goal in Valencia's 2-0 win over Olympique de Marseille in the final.

In all, he scored 40 times in 142 games for Valencia.

But hampered by injuries, he had just two goals in 26 games for Deportivo the last two seasons and the Spanish club reportedly cancelled the final year of his contract by mutual consent.

Mo Johnston, TFC's director of soccer, has faith that the Spaniard will regain his form in North America.

"He's a good finisher," said Johnston. "He can link up very well, he can play off the front or else he can play right through the middle.

"Technically he has good awareness with the ball at his feet and can certainly score."

Mista is signed through the end of the season. But due to international transfer rules, the Spaniard can't play until after the July 15 transfer window opens.

Under current MLS rules, the salary budget for each team is set at US$2.55 million, and each designated player counts for US$335,000 against that budget, regardless of how much the team decides to pay the player.

Because Mista signed at mid-season, he only counts US$167,500 against the cap.

De Guzman is making US$1.72 million this season, according to the MLS Players Union, which had yet to receive Mista's numbers as of Tuesday afternoon.

Mista has spent a week training with Toronto (13-5-4), which is tied with five other teams for seventh in scoring in the 16-team league with 16 goals this season.

"He showed great enthusiasm coming in. He worked very hard and the coaches really liked what they saw," said Johnston.

Other clubs included Atletico Madrid and Tenerife. Mista, who started his career in the Real Madrid ranks, has played twice for Spain at the senior level.

Mista (Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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