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Toronto FC acquire forward Oduro from Columbus for Rey

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The Canadian Press
6/6/2014 1:48:04 PM
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TORONTO -- The elaborate designs Dominic Oduro has worn shaved in his hair have included a black and yellow striped mohawk, a replica slice of pepperoni pizza, and even a neon pink breast cancer ribbon with matching pink mohawk.

But Oduro turns heads on the pitch for more than his distinctive hairstyles, and that's all Toronto FC cares about.

"I don't think I'll be joining him in any fashion choices," Toronto captain Steven Caldwell said, laughing. "No interest in his hair. We're only interested in his talents on the pitch."

TFC acquired the speedy Ghana forward/winger in a trade with the Crew on Friday, sending Spanish winger Alvaro Rey to Columbus. Toronto hopes to have Oduro in the lineup when they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Oduro, whose Twitter handle is "Freakyfast8," has 46 goals in 228 MLS appearances, including 139 starts.

"We're talking about the fastest or one of the top three fastest guys in the whole league, so it's very exciting to have Dominic join us," Caldwell said. "He's been a dangerous opponent of ours since I came here, scored a couple of goals and been a real thorn in the side. When we're defending for long periods with Dominic in the park we can break with such pace, and cause every team in the league problems."

The colourful character earned mention on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" after a 2013 goal celebration against Chicago that saw him take a bite of pizza after being passed a slice by a waiting accomplice. Oduro then gave the rest of the pizza to a fan in the stands. He showcased his love for pizza by having the design of a slice shaved into his hair.

Asked what he knows about his new teammate, star striker Jermain Defoe said "I just heard that he's fast. I heard that he's really quick. At the end of the day the club has done good business so I can imagine that he's going to improve the team. And he knows that he's coming into a good team, so hopefully he can come and get off to good start and help the team."

Toronto (5-4-1) is in sixth in the Eastern Conference -- one spot out of the playoffs -- with several games in hand, and hopes to head into the three-week break for the World Cup on a high note.

Coach Ryan Nelsen said he's coveted Oduro since last season, when the six-foot-one player scored in two of the three meetings between the teams.

"We know his character really well, we know who he is, and we know that when we scouted Columbus, he's one of the guys that you worry about. Most teams when they scout Columbus, you worry about Dominic Oduro," Nelsen said.

"He's proved in the league that he can be pretty devastating. He's a nice age, he's got good MLS experience, and can play a couple of positions and he's going to be a very valuable asset to our club."

When asked if Toronto was lacking in speed before acquiring Oduro, Nelsen said: "No, but pace always helps doesn't it?

"It's always nice to have probably the fastest guy in the league on your team, a guy who scored double-figure goals in the league. It helps, he can play right midfield, he can play striker, so it's just another weapon in the arsenal that we're trying to build. We're trying to make the squad better, deeper, and we always look to be creative, and we'll keep doing that."

Oduro, who was to arrive in Toronto later Friday, had a career-high 13 goals last season, but is goalless in 11 games (six starts) this season.

Prior to Columbus, he played for Chicago, Dallas, Houston and New York.

"To my new team, Toronto hope to help the team move forward. Thanks for everyones love and support," the Ghanaian tweeted Friday.

Another tweet read: "Wanna thank the Crew organization for the opportunity they gave me to play for them. It was blast but in the end guess it didn't work out."

Toronto doesn't play again until June 27 when they travel to New York to face the Red Bulls, and Nelsen said he'd love to head into the break with a victory.

"Of course it's important, to get back to winning ways in front of our home fans," Nelsen said. "We're really motivated, could put us in a really nice position in the league, we've many games in hand."

Toronto dropped a 1-0 decision in Montreal on Wednesday, as the Impact won the Amway Canadian Championship, which doesn't count toward Major League Soccer standings.

Defoe said his teammates had put that loss behind them.

"I think the league is more important," said Jermain Defoe. "To be honest I think that was the main goal before the season started, to have a good run in the league and hopefully get in the playoffs. Now it's important to focus on the league, no distractions. We're on a good run at the minute."

TFC's last league game was a 3-2 win over Columbus last weekend. San Jose (4-4-4) is coming off its first road win of the season, beating FC Dallas 2-1.

"They're a very good team, they don't give you much, they have very good centre backs there, and they're just a very very hard working, solid, well-organized team and they don't give you much in terms of goals," Nelsen said of the Earthquakes. "Credit to Mark Watson, their coach (who is Canadian). They're like him, just hard and organized. It will be a very very difficult game."

The 24-year-old Rey, meanwhile, had one goal in 20 appearances for Toronto. He made six starts, with one substitute appearance, this season but had been slowed by injury and dropped behind Jonathan Osorio on the left side on depth chart.

Prior to joining the Toronto, Rey scored three goals in 28 appearances for Spanish side Xerez.

Dominic Oduro (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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