TORONTO – Jeremy Hall had a unique before-and-after look at Toronto FC last season, first when he was with the expansion Portland Timbers and then after joining FC Dallas.
He was impressed by the evolution of the team under first-year head coach and technical director Aron Winter and is happy to be part of the team after a trade with FC Dallas a month ago for a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2013.
The 23-year-old defender was with the Timbers when they lost 2-0 to the Reds at BMO Field on March 26.
After being traded to Dallas in August, Hall played against the Reds when they had their best game of the season on Oct. 18 in the final group match for both teams in the CONCACAF Champions League. TFC dominated 3-0 to advance to the CCL quarterfinals.
Hall says the Toronto FC that he saw when he was with Portland and the one he saw in the CCL match in October at Dallas were “two totally different teams.”
“Toronto came in and whupped us up 3-0 pretty bad,” Hall told MLSsoccer.com last week. “I think they got stronger as the season went on. I don’t know if it was because they were getting more comfortable with each other or bringing in [Torsten] Frings and whatnot, just different players that were stepping their games up.
“They looked good, they kept the ball and they have some dangerous players, so when I found out I was traded, I was excited about it because I think in the coming season, we can be a very good team.”
Hall has been primarily a right back in his three seasons in MLS but also can play left back or in midfield.
He played at left midfield when he scored 14 goals with seven assists to help Maryland win the 2008 NCAA Championship. He was drafted by the New York Red Bulls in the 2009 SuperDraft and played two seasons for them before being traded to Portland on Nov. 22, 2010.
“I’ve tracked Jeremy since he was at Maryland,” TFC director of player development Paul Mariner said. “He was a kingpin of the Maryland team when he was there. I watched his progress. I spoke to his coach [at Portland], John Spencer, who spoke in glowing terms about him. He was very sad that he had to lose him. When he came available, we put our heads together and we thought this is the kind of player who can play various positions.”
Hall likes the style Toronto are using under Winter with a 4-3-3 alignment with an emphasis on possession and passing.
“You can see since Aron came in they’re trying to be a possession team and that definitely fits to my strength,” Hall said. “I’m one of those guys who is a fan of keeping the ball, keeping possession, opening up the field, a lot of wide play. Growing up and through college, I’ve been an attacking-minded player.”