TFC's Hall pain-free: "Best I've felt since rookie season"

Toronto FC's Jeremy Hall

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TORONTO – Jeremy Hall was plenty frustrated as the 2012 season kicked off – with his third club in two years, he found himself sidelined by a sports hernia surgery. But now things are starting to look up for the 23-year-old defender.

Hall has come on strong in recent games for Toronto FC, and though he feels he is not fully fit yet yet, the signs are positive.

“I don’t even think I’m 100 percent fit where I’m at,” he said last Friday. “It was tough with the traveling to Vancouver and then going to D.C. and they were my first 90-minute games.”

He has now played six consecutive games in the league and Amway Canadian Championship – including starts in TFC's four most recent games – and head coach and technical director Aron Winter likes what he sees.

“Jeremy is a good player,”  Winter enthused. “We couldn’t use him for the first couple of months. He’s doing it well.”

The Tampa, Fla., native was obtained in a trade with FC Dallas last Nov. 29 and could become a factor as Toronto hang onto the hope that there is still time to make a bid for an MLS Cup Playoffs spot despite a 1-9-0 start.

However, Hall knew something might be wrong even before he made the journey north of the border, having split his time in 2011 between Portland and Dallas.

“It was something I was playing with last year but it was too painful for me to go through this year,” he said. “When I got here, I was in the gym trying to strengthen that area and when I was doing a little bit of the running, I still felt it.”

An ultrasound procedure revealed the tear, he said.

“It was hard coming back with the surgery and then working hard with the trainers and stuff,” he said. “I think the trainers did a really good job with me. This is the best I’ve felt since probably my rookie season.”

He was traded to Portland at the end of 2010 after spending his first two seasons with the New York Red Bulls, but could never really find his footing in 2011. Despite starting 17 games for the Timbers, he was shipped to Dallas in August, where he only made four appearances during the rest of the season.

“Last year was tough for me,” he acknowledged.

Though his recovery comes with Toronto on the uptick, the timing is not entirely perfect – his quest for match fitness will be hampered by the fact Toronto do not play again until June 16. However, there are two reserve games during that time and Hall said he might try for some playing time in those.

“Just try and build my fitness up,” he said. “I don’t want to take too many days off because I don’t want to lose what I’ve already gained.”