His arrival had been eagerly anticipated all week, this player who has represented his country. After his arrival, the question was whether he would be able to play tomorrow night when Toronto FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy meet at BMO Field.
He has arrived and, yes, he will be able to play.
Toronto FC's new goalkeeper, Kenny Stamatopoulos, worked out yesterday at BMO Field after a loan deal was worked out with his club, Tromso I.L.
David Beckham? He'll be in town, but with his wonky ankle, his participation is in doubt, and Stamatopoulos is more likely to be facing shots from Landon Donovan of the Galaxy.
Stamatopoulos, 27, who was born in Greece and grew up in Markham, Ont., has four caps with Canada and will be able to put down tomorrow's game as another memorable debut.
This one, of course, is all about Beckham, who has just joined his Major League Soccer club, but has played hardly at all because of the ankle injury.
Stamatopoulos's parents, family and friends live in the Toronto area. "That was the first thing they said," Stamatopoulos said. "It wasn't welcome back, it was, 'Where's the tickets?' "
Whatever happens tomorrow night, it would be difficult for Stamatopoulos to match his debut last season with Tromso I.L. Nor would he want to repeat the debut, which became what he referred to yesterday as "a little hockey brawl."
It earned him a two-game suspension.
"I just went out to kind of clear up a fight," he said. "And unfortunately, I got in the middle of it. The pictures looked worse than it was. I grabbed someone's hair, supposedly, but there were no intentions there."
He became a fan favourite because of the fight.
"But parents were saying I was a bad influence and stuff like that," he said.
His contract with Tromso will last through December of 2008, but there is a purchase option with a Nov. 1 deadline in the loan deal to Toronto.
The acquisition of another goalkeeper became necessary because regular Greg Sutton is still suffering the after-effects of a concussion while he was with Canada's Gold Cup team in June.
Before joining Tromso, Stamatopoulos played in Greece from 1999 to 2003 and then for 2½ years in Sweden.
He spent a long day flying to Toronto, starting in Tromso with a flight to Oslo, then to Frankfurt and then to Toronto. Tromso has a population of about 62,000 on an island in northern Norway and is called the Paris of the North.
Asked what one does in Tromso, Stamatopoulos said, "Watch the Northern Lights."
His playing time in Norway dwindled after an injury. "This year, I was playing a bit, and then I had an injury and it set me back and I needed to play again, so this was a perfect opportunity," he said.
He's heard about the success of Toronto's first-year MLS team and enjoys the situation with the visit of Beckham and the Galaxy. "It's really exciting, but you really can't just focus on just Beckham," he said.
He said he never thought he would be playing soccer at this level in Toronto and now he will go into tomorrow's game off two training sessions with his new team and a period of dealing with "the flight itself and adjusting to the time."
He joins a team riddled with injuries. The list includes Jeff Cunningham (abdomen), Danny Dichio (hip flexor), Ronnie O'Brien (knee), Andrew Boyens (broken nose and concussion) and Marvell Wynne (hamstring). Then there is Jim Brennan, who practised yesterday and intends to play tomorrow with two broken ribs.
Stamatopoulos trained with the team yesterday and the second practice will be this morning.
"It's always tough when someone brand new comes in and plays with a brand new back four," head coach Mo Johnston said.
About 30 minutes of yesterday's practice was devoted to working on the basics, with situations that involve the goalkeeper. "He'll handle it, he'll handle it well," Johnston said.