FC Dallas sends Toja to Steaua
"I want to play in Europe because it's the only way to play in the Colombian national team," FC Dallas midfielder Juan Toja said recently.
Well, if the logic holds true, the 23-year-old Colombian is now a little closer to playing for the Cafeteros. On Friday, FCD announced on its official blog that Toja had completed his long-rumored move to Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. The fee was undisclosed, but several reports have said it is in the vicinity of $1.5 million.
The ex-River Plate man, famed in MLS for his proud mullet hairstyle, spent just a season-and-a-half with the Hoops. In that time, he scored eight goals in 43 appearances, was named to the All-Star team twice, and scored a goal in the 2007 All-Star game against Glasgow Celtic. He also helped Dallas reach the '07 playoffs, where it lost to eventual MLS Cup winners Houston Dynamo.
But the former Colombian under-20 player was not the dynamic creative player in '08 that he was last year. Soon after the season's start, it was known he wanted to leave Dallas, especially after the firing two months ago of coach Steve Morrow.
With Steaua, he joins a team with a long tradition of success. It was runner-up the last two seasons in Romania's Liga 1. Disciplinary problems threatened its Champions League bid this year, but UEFA recently ruled it is eligible to participate. Steaua is due to join the competition for the third qualifying round, which takes place later this month.
Dallas, meanwhile, continues to reshape the side under new boss Schellas Hyndman. Earlier this week, Arturo Alvarez was shipped off to San Jose. On Friday, the club inked former Dutch international Victor Sikora.
"We wish Juan all the best in Europe and thank him for his contribution to FC Dallas, on and off the field," said club GM Michael Hitchcock in a statement. "Juan is a special player who will have success wherever he plays. That said we're confident that we have a number of good young players who are ready to step up and fill the shoes that Juan is leaving."