USL club thinks it's found the answer in speedy Ansu Toure - The Province

Marc Weber

The Vancouver Whitecaps think they've signed a player who's going to get fans talking. They know their opponents will be.

"Every team he's played for -- Minnesota, Atlanta, Miami -- our pre-game comments about who we needed to be aware of always included Ansu Toure," said Caps' defender Justin Thompson, who saw his share of the attacking midfielder while playing in Portland.

"I know him well. He's very quick. He's excellent in one-(on)-one situations and he's a guy who will be a constant threat for us."

"I'm glad I don't have to defend him," added veteran defender Geordie Lyall, whose return was announced Tuesday, along with that of Japanese defender Takashi Hirano.

Toure's contract -- two years plus a club option -- will be announced today, but the 5-foot-10, 160-pound talent was already the big news at Burnaby-8 Rinks as the 'Caps conducted fitness testing.

Fans might remember the 27-year-old from last season's two-goal performance in a 3-2 loss to Vancouver at Swangard when he was still with Atlanta. He was traded to Miami days later and was still under contract there, so the Caps have worked out a transfer fee.

Toure scored six times last season. He played two seasons with the Minnesota Thunder prior to Atlanta, and he spent two months on trial with the New York Red Bulls of MLS in 2007. He said he was happy Tuesday at having stability, and also with the prospect of Vancouver jumping to MLS by 2011.

"I've been moving around a lot the past three seasons," said the Liberian-born Toure, who moved to Minnesota when he was 17.

"I always look for the best opportunity, and Vancouver is a very good team. I definitely pray I can be a big help to Vancouver, and to go to MLS, I would love to face that challenge."

The left-footed Toure will slot into the outside left midfield position opened up by the release of Alfredo Valente, the Caps' best crosser.

"He's very talented," said midfielder Martin Nash, the no-brainer choice for captain. "He has pace and skill, and that's something we haven't had there in the past. It's an interesting dynamic."

mweber@theprovince.com

There's loads more from 'Caps camp on the web, including Martin Nash's thoughts on the new faces and the season ahead. Visit BACK OF THE NET on the province.com/blogs.

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