TORONTO – Toronto FC selected Aaron Maund in the MLS SuperDraft in January as a center back, a position that had been a long-standing need for the club.
As it turns out, Maund may not be the answer in central defense. But that’s not an indictment of his talent, either.
Instead, head coach Paul Mariner has been using the 21-year-old in a central midfield role recently, a position the Englishman believes position will be Maund’s new home for some time.
“I think he can [play both], but I see him playing in a central midfield role,” Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. “I just think Aaron is very intelligent, the game happens a little bit quicker in front of him in central midfield. He’s suited to that. He gets on the end of things and he forces the ball down really well. I just like him there. He looks more comfortable for me,”
HIGHLIGHTS: Maund with Notre Dame
Maund has played in nine league games this season and made three starts, including the past two games in the midfield.
Those starts came in the 1-1 draw at Houston on Aug. 25 and the 2-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 1, both games that midfielder and Designated Player Torsten Frings missed. It was announced on Wednesday that Frings, a former German international, will miss the rest of the season because of arthroscopic surgery on his hip.
Mariner is pleased with the way Maund has adjusted to the position change.
“I think he’s worked out very well,” Mariner said. “He’s never played there before and to step in and do what he’s doing. ... I thought he was fantastic against Houston. I thought he grew into the game against Kansas City.”
Mariner draws on his days as assistant coach with the New England Revolution to give an example of the possibilities for Maund.
“I liken him to Jeff Larentowicz,” Mariner said. “When [New England] got him from Brown, he was a right back and central defender but we turned him into a central midfield player.”
Toronto FC can only hope that Maund works out as well. Larentowicz is in his eighth season in the league, five with New England and the past three with Colorado.
Fortunately for Maund, he has Mariner in his corner and the remainder of the season to begin to make a mark.
“I keep telling him every day that he can be successful in this league,” Mariner said. “I’m looking forward to working with him in the next few years. He’s the type of player that really suits this league. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s quick. He can move the ball very well. There’s a few things he needs to work on. But I’m very happy with him.”