For TFC, rebuilding also means developing young talent

Ashtone Morgan has impressed for the Reds

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TORONTO — Toronto FC’s lineup has undergone considerable change in recent weeks, and not only from the number of new players brought in.

The club has also began the process of giving more exposure to young players such as Ashtone Morgan (pictured above), Doneil Henry and Matt Stinson, the latter of which graduated this year from the Toronto FC Academy.

That these youngsters are seeing more playing time is part of a rebuilding program under head coach and technical director Aron Winter. However, Winter is taking a cautious approach as he gradually introduces them into the senior team.

“I’ve always said we are rebuilding," he said. "It’s long-term plans, and I want to use as much as possible Home Grown players or youth players. [But] when you use them, you have to be careful because those guys are young and they have to improve a lot.”

This approach means that Winter is picking his moments to bring in the youngsters.

“At the right moment we try to bring them in to gain experience," Winter said. "They’ve all got skills, they are still young and you have to bring them slowly, slowly.”

And slowly, this academy trio is earning playing time. Morgan has two starts and an assist this season and Henry has made five starts. Meanwhile, Stinson has come off the bench five times in his debut season.

“Sooner or later — it could be next year, or maybe in two years — then they are ready and then they can play more games," Winter said. “It’s important, otherwise if you bring them too quick it’s going to mean those kids could get tired or get injuries or whatever.”

Toronto FC have, of course, been very busy in the transfer market this season, bringing in a slew of veteran players such as Torsten Frings, Danny Koevermans, Andy Iro and Terry Dunfield. And while their experience should make an immediate impact on the pitch, they are also expected to help in the development of the young players.

“Not only on the pitch, but outside the pitch it’s very important to educate those kids to give them the soccer environment that we want and to also help them with their development,” Winter said.