TORONTO – Jeremy Hall is with his fourth MLS team, so it’s not unusual when he bumps into – sometimes literally – a former teammate on the pitch.
Take Sinisa Ubiparipovic of the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC’s opponents Wednesday at Stade Saputo (7:30 pm ET; TSN/RDS in Canada; MLS Live in the US).
They played together with the New York Red Bulls in 2009 and 2010. They were friends, but often fierce foes in training.
“When we were in New York, we would go at it in practice because I was in the back and he would play left winger,” Hall told MLSsoccer.com on Monday after training at BMO Field. “We would just try to get into each other’s head, like kick each other and stuff.”
The 23-year-old Tampa, Fla., native was still out after sports hernia surgery when the teams met for the first time this season, back on April 7 at Olympic Stadium. Ubiparipovic scored the opening goal in the Impact’s 2-1 victory.
When TFC beat Montreal 2-0 in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals on May 9, Hall played as a substitute.
“I just came on and he was on the wing and I gave him a nice little hit right there,” Hall recalled. “It makes it fun to get into his head and you’re talking during the game. You kind of know each other’s tendencies just from playing with that person a little bit.”
While Ubiparipovic’s playing time with the Impact has diminished, Hall, who also can play midfield, has become a regular on Toronto’s young and beleaguered backline. He scored his first league goal in the 3-3 tie at Houston last Wednesday.
Toronto (1-10-2) have allowed seven goals in the first three games under new head coach Paul Mariner in gaining two draws and a loss. Hall said the defenders suffer from not having many games or training sessions together as the jammed recent schedule has restricted practice time.
As a result, the defenders have often dropped too far back, creating a large space between the backline and midfield that opposing teams exploit.
“I think we’re getting stretched out or dropping off and [between the defenders and] our midfielders there’s a huge gap in there, and then these guys have time to turn and run at us,” Hall said. “If we can stay compact, we’ll be a tough team to break down.”
Plata out with hamstring injury
Mariner confirmed that Joao Plata will not play in Montreal after injuring a hamstring in training on Friday, even though he trained on Tuesday.