TORONTO - After seeing just 90 minutes of MLS action last season with Toronto FC, Andrew Wiedeman understandably wanted more.
The 25-year-old forward should get his opportunity this year after signing with Ottawa Fury FC of the North American Soccer League, where he will be reunited with former Toronto fullback Ryan Richter.
"It'd be a nice change of pace hopefully to find some more consistent minutes, which is what I need," Wiedeman said from California.
For Ottawa coach Marc Dos Santos, the mobile five-foot-11 Wiedeman offers a different look than six-foot-four target man Tom Heinemann, who played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Columbus Crew prior to joining the Fury.
"We brought him to be a No. 9," Dos Santos said of Wiedeman. "In some occasions he might play with Heinemann but normally him and Heinemann are going to fight for that spot."
Dos Santos said his priority leading into Year 2 of the franchise was to add experience.
Drafted in the second round, 21st overall, by FC Dallas in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Wiedeman appeared in 44 regular season games (17 starts) in five seasons with Dallas and Toronto. He had four goals and one assist.
Toronto loaned Richter to Ottawa last season but declined his and Wiedeman's options at the end of the season.
Wiedeman said there was some interest from MLS clubs but nothing concrete and he did not want to end up in the same position as last season — "struggling to get minutes, buried on the depth chart."
He has no regrets about his time on Toronto, saying he still has a soft spot for the city. But he acknowledges it's tough for strikers to get a look given the high-priced talent brought in to score goals.
"And that's not to say that that's the reason I didn't succeed there," he said. "There's also things in my hands that I could have done differently."
He visited Ottawa last year and took in a game at TD Place Stadium. "They're trying to play an attractive brand of soccer," he said.
Richter, a six-foot-two fullback who signed with Ottawa last month, was also influential.
"He had nothing but positive things to say about the setup and most importantly the coach and the training that he runs," Wiedeman said.
"He said the coach had big aspirations, he's quality," he added. "So that went a long way with me."
Wiedeman is due to report to training camp on Feb. 16, ending a seemingly never-ending off-season that started at the end of October. "Going out of my mind, man," he said.
Both players will be back on familiar turf March 6 when Ottawa plays Toronto FC in a closed-door exhibition game at TFC's north Toronto training centre.
Ottawa, which went a combined 7-14-6 in its debut spring and fall seasons in 2014, opens its regular season April 4 in Carolina against the RailHawks.
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