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Source: Toronto FC signs Brazilian holding midfielder Cesar

The Canadian Press

1/14/2013 3:17:42 PM

TORONTO -- Toronto FC has added experience and helped stiffen its defence in the form of Brazilian veteran Julio Cesar, once on Real Madrid's books.

The MLS club had yet to announce the pickup as of late Monday afternoon but a source confirmed the signing of the holding midfielder/defender.

The 34-year-old Cesar played 27 games for Sporting Kansas City in each of the last two seasons before being waived in November. Cesar made a hefty US$255,750 in 2012.

Kansas City had the league's stingiest defence last season, yielding just 27 goals. Toronto was worst in MLS with 62 goals conceded.

Cesar has only scored three goals in MLS but two came against Canadian teams.

His one goal in 2012 came against Toronto, a stunning volley from close range off a corner. It won goal of the week honours. The Brazilian opened his MLS account with the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver in June 2011.

Cesar's club resume is extensive.

He signed with C.D. Marathon before moving to Spain's Real Valladolid at 17 and then Real Madrid.

He went on play for Italy's AC Milan, Portugal's Benfica, Austria Vienna, Valladolid (again), England's Bolton Wanderers, Mexico's Tigres, Greece's Olympiacos, Romania's FC Dinamo Bucuresti, Turkey's Gaziantepspor and Portugal's Maritimo Funchal.

Veteran Torsten Frings is ostensibly Toronto's holding midfielder but has also played in the backline to shore up a leaky defence. The addition of veteran defender Danny Califf -- and possible additions in Thursday's SuperDraft, should allow Frings to remain in midfield.

Still Frings is coming off hip surgery and, at 36, isn't getting any younger. Toronto president and GM Kevin Payne, however, says Frings has assured him he is healthy and ready to go.

Payne met with Frings in London prior to Christmas. TFC's strength and conditioning staff has also checked up on Frings.

"He's a proud man and an accomplished player," Payne said last week when Toronto announced Ryan Nelsen as its new head coach. "He does not want people to remember him by the season that either he or the team had last year."

Cesar's football pedigree fits in with Payne's desire to stiffen his team's spine.

"We're looking for men, we're looking for real character on this team," he said . "We're going to have a lot of young players too. We're going to invest money in young players but we need to have the right people around to teach those young players what it takes to be successful and not just assume that a young player, because he's a great soccer player, is going to walk out on the field and be successful."