TORONTO – Darren O’Dea was understandably tired. His week included a trip from Toronto to Belgrade through Dublin and back again after playing 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland in a scoreless draw with Serbia.
“Yeah, to be honest when I went down it wasn’t for any particular reason, it was just to give myself a breather,” Toronto FC’s newest center back said after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. "It’s been a tough week."
The 25-year-old, who made his first appearance for TFC in the loss, made a good impression on the pitch and kept it that way off the pitch by not venting about his fatigue.
“People work nine-to-five [jobs],” O'Dea said. "I wouldn’t want to be doing that, so I’m happy to be flying around the world playing football matches in different places. I’m not complaining.”
Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner had nothing but praise for the Irish international for how well he has adapted to the backline despite his unusual start to his TFC tenure.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 0, SKC 1
“When you factor in his [traveling], how many miles has he flown and then a quick turnaround, playing against one of the best teams in MLS, I thought he acquitted himself unbelievably well,” Mariner said. “He’s talking at the back, he’s commanding the line. He’s everything I want, absolutely everything.”
O’Dea also got to see first-hand the problems that Toronto FC have had defending on set pieces. They fell Saturday on a goal off a free kick in the 83rd minute.
“It’s bitterly disappointing," said O'Dea. "I think you don’t need to play well in football matches, it doesn’t need to be pretty but you need to come away something and I think for the large part that was our best spell in the game as well. It was one of these things, it’s probably preventable, but you can talk about it all day ... so it’s about time we start doing something.”
TFC are awaiting the results on an MRI on Doneil Henry, who was subbed off with a knee injury in the first half Saturday.
“He’s been playing with a little bit of a puffy knee, which I didn’t know,” Mariner said. “He wasn’t himself. He didn’t seem to have that zip.”
Mariner said he knee was swollen but he hopes that it was caught early enough.