TORONTO – Recently arrived center back Darren O’Dea already has missed one Toronto FC match because he was playing for the Republic of Ireland and isn't about to miss another one so soon.
Luckily for him, he has been given permission to miss next week's friendly against Oman following Ireland’s World Cup qualifying match on Friday in Kazakhstan, which will enable him to return to Toronto in time to play for the Reds in their league match against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 12 at BMO Field.
O’Dea, a former Celtic standout who was signed in early August by Toronto, has played only five games for Toronto – four in the league and one in the CONCACAF Champions League – but has already shown his value as a leader on the backline both vocally and with his style of play.
The 25-year-old said it was important for him to play for Toronto FC in the league match even though the team is essentially out of contention for the playoffs.
“You don’t want to be going petering out in the season where you’re just going through the motions of playing games,” O’Dea said last week before Toronto departed for Kansas City, where they lost 2-1 last weekend. “You want to be playing for something. We’re still playing for something in the league because we don’t want to be where we are.”
Toronto FC (5-16-6) are last in the Eastern Conference with 21 points.
O’Dea left to join the Irish national team after playing against Sporting Kansas City and has been named to the starting lineup on Friday.
“There is a game conflicting with the Chicago game at home but it’s only a friendly, so I spoke to them and they have no problem with me getting back so I’ll not miss that game which I thought I might,” O’Dea said. “I’ll play in Kazakhstan and get back to London and then fly straight here. I want to be playing here and helping the team.