Toronto FC's Gale Agbossoumonde set to see heavy minutes: "It's a big opportunity for me"

TORONTO – Doneil Henry is off with the Canadian national team, getting his chance with his country. Gale Agbossoumonde knows that means it’s time for him to get his chance with his club.

The 21-year-old Toronto FC central defender plans to make the most of whatever minutes he sees in the next several weeks, starting Wednesday night against Montreal (7 pm ET; TSN/RDS in Canada, MLS Live in US).

“It’s a big opportunity for me personally,” Agbossoumonde told reporters following training on Tuesday. “It’s also a big opportunity for the team to go out and perform well.”

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Given that TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen has preferred not to play with two very young central defenders at the same time, Henry (20 years old) and Agbossoumonde (21 years old) have been forced to battle it out for minutes on the training pitch all season long. Henry has taken the upper hand, and is currently on a run of form that has seen him out of the starting XI only once in recent weeks due to a red card.

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But with Henry now set to be away for at least the next couple of weeks on Gold Cup duty and slated to serve another suspension when he comes back, Agbossoumonde has his chance to prove to Nelsen that he deserves more minutes. His first opportunity will come at home against an Eastern Conference leading Impact squad that boasts a potent offense – one that TFC have been up close and personal with.

“The last time they played us, they spanked us,” Agbossoumonde said. “So we owe them one as a team. Hopefully everything goes as planned [Wednesday] and I think everyone is ready to put their best foot forward.”

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Montreal indeed soundly defeated TFC in their most recent meeting, a 6-0 Canadian Championship tournament win for the Impact that was headlined by a brace from superstar forward Marco Di Vaio.

While not underplaying the impact that the Serie A veteran can have on a match, the athletic, 6-foot-2 Agbossoumonde was quick to express that he isn’t trembling in his boots at the thought of going head-to-head against any player.

“I watch him play on my own, but the coaches also do a lot of studying and they tell me what to expect,” Agbossoumonde said. “So I know what to expect [Wednesday] and what I have to do. I feel comfortable and well prepared.”

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Ultimately, the young central defender sees Wednesday’s fixture as one that is bursting with opportunity for him and his side, especially given the fact that TFC still have not won a match at BMO Field this year.

“We owe the fans,” Agbossoumonde stated. “Our supporters are great and we haven’t been able to give them a win at home in a while. We definitely owe them one and we definitely owe Montreal one.”

Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.