Harden stepping it up in defense for revamped Toronto

TFC defender Ty Harden

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TORONTO – Toronto FC had just taken the lead in the second half on Saturday, when the New York Red Bulls threatened to quickly tie the game.

But center back Ty Harden made a sliding clearance with his left foot at the lip of the six-yard box in front of goal to deprive Thierry Henry of a likely sitter.

“It’s really hard for me to describe,” he said. “You’re so in the moment sometimes, I can’t recall very well. I know I kind of ended up scooping it away with my left foot, but I don’t exactly know how the buildup was.”

And although Henry did tie the game 1-1- in the 88th minute, Harden emerged from the game earning praise from head coach and technical director Aron Winter.

“Ty [was] great,” Winter said. “Very good. We have seen also that every game he is playing better. Today, he did very well.”

Harden has been one of the constants on a team that has undergone vast changes in the past three months. The 27-year-old is in his second season with the Reds, and thus far in 2011 he has played in 24 league games, 22 of them starts.

“Mentally I feel very confident right now. I feel comfortable," Harden said. "I think we’ve kind of gotten a little more of a set lineup so we’re more comfortable with each other in the back. Communication and just knowing where someone’s going to be has been a little bit better lately.”

He says his improvement in his play has a lot to do with confidence.

“I think the season has gotten my confidence level back to where it should be,” he said. “Playing significant minutes and being counted on and all that has really helped. On the ball, we’ve played a lot more this year and I think that suits me better than maybe ways we’ve played in the past, and I’ve gotten back to that a little bit. I think I’ve gotten more comfortable on the ball and I think that’s helped.”