Morgan takes to right back for hamstrung Toronto defense
TORONTO – Ashtone Morgan has shown during the past week that he can do things right, too.
Toronto FC’s regular left fullback was forced to shift over to right back during Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City after an injury to Doneil Henry forced head coach Paul Mariner to shuffle the backline.
And despite the eventual loss, Mariner was pleased enough with what he saw to consider asking Morgan to make the switch again when Toronto play at Columbus on Wednesday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“No, not at all,” TFC's boss replied, asked if he had any problem with starting Morgan on the right. “His right foot’s useful, you could see he wasn’t afraid to use it and whip it in.
"The one thing about MLS players is that they have to be multifunctional. One of the really good ones for me is Brek Shea. Brek can play almost any position in MLS.”
Richard Eckersley, the regular right back for the past two seasons, has been moved to the center of defense to pair with newcomer Darren O’Dea, who made his TFC debut on Saturday. And with Toronto currently dealing with a spate of injuries to their backline, Mariner conceded there were a lot of moving pieces.
“It depends on the availability of players,” Mariner said Tuesday afternoon after training at Downsview Park. “Maybe Ty [Harden] is going to be a problem, it looks like [with a groin injury]. Matt Stinson is out [with a thigh injury], he could have filled that role. We’ll have a look at a couple of options first, I’ve got some things I could use but we’ll see.”
Morgan has started 22 games at left back this season and has tallied five assists in the process, the most recent coming in TFC's 2-2 draw with Portland on Aug. 15 from a right-footed cross that Eric Hassli flicked on to goalscorer Luis Silva.
He was playing left back in that game and until Saturday had never played played on the right side competitively.
“Not really, maybe in training a little bit,” the 21-year-old Toronto native said. “Never for more than a half [like Saturday]. It’s kind of the same but you have to use your right foot a little bit more.
“It’s all right, as Paul said it’s not just to stand on, I can use it. Sometimes during training Paul gives us 15 minutes to ourselves and I always do right-foot dribbling and practice with my right foot."