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Toronto FC sign defender Ahmed Kantari

TORONTO - Needing experience at centre back in the wake of Steven Caldwell's retirement, Toronto FC has signed Moroccan international defender Ahmed Kantari.

It's the latest in a line of French Connection signings for the MLS club. The French-born Kantari joins French midfielder Benoit Cheyrou and fellow centre back Damien Perquis, French-born but a Polish international.

Coach Greg Vanney also played professionally in France.

Kantari, 30, spent the last two seasons with Lens in the French league.

"We are pleased to add both an experienced and natural leader to our defensive group with the signing of Ahmed Kantari," Toronto GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement Friday. "He is someone that possesses many attributes we like as a centre back but also as a person."

Kantari and the 31-year-old Perquis give Toronto experience at the heart of its defence, with youngsters Nick Hagglund, Eriq Zavaleta and Clement Simonin waiting in the wings.

The club also announced on Friday that defender Mark Bloom underwent surgery today to repair the quadriceps tendon in his right leg. As a result, he will miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

Bloom is expected to be fully recovered and ready for the start of pre-season in January.

Going into weekend play, Toronto (8-7-3) ranked 18th in the league in goals against, conceding 1.56 goals a game.

Kantari, whose parents are Moroccan, made his debut for the Moroccan national team in 2005 and has gone on to win 16 caps. He captained his country in 2013.

Kantari began his professional career with Paris Saint-Germain in 2005 before moving to second-division Racing Strasbourg and Brest.

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