Forget about playing for the full 90 minutes. Recent New England signing Juan Toja merely wanted to step out on the field for the first time in more than six months and continue moving toward 100 percent fitness.
The two-time MLS All-Star made his Revolution debut and played in his first competitive match since February in the Revs' 2-1 defeat to D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Saturday night. As far as debuts go, his initial 17 minutes met expectations: Toja offered up flashes of his quality and showed he still needs to work on his match fitness to reach his true capabilities.
“I did a couple of nice things, a couple of good movements, but I know myself,” Toja told MLSsoccer.com after the match. “I must examine myself after the game to see what I really did or to see what I have done or I am not doing. There were a couple of good balls, but most of the time, I was feeling tired. I'm not feeling very strong. I need to work day by day, step by step. I'm on it.”
WATCH: Toja returns to MLS
It may take some time for Toja to reach his full potential as he works his way toward full fitness. His teammates are sharper as they approach the end of their campaign, and he will require plenty of match practice in order to meet that same standard.
Toja understands and embraces the task ahead of him. The former Colombian international midfielder said he plans to lean on his teammates for support and push himself to increase the contribution he can make by the time New York visits on Saturday.
“I'm trying to get to my 100 percent,” Toja said. “I'm not ready yet. I'm trying to do my best. I have been here one week. I have one more week until the next game. I will work as much as I can and get to know my teammates as football players and human beings. This period has different kinds of situations, but I'm OK and I'm doing fine.”