TORONTO – This season has been about learning for rookie Aaron Maund in more ways than one.
The 21-year-old rookie, drafted in the first round (12th overall) from Notre Dame in January's MLS SuperDraft, has not only been learning about how to deal with the pace, the length and the travel of a professional season, but how to play a new position as well.
Maund began the season as a center back has been converted to a defensive midfielder by head coach Paul Mariner. Though Mariner admits the youngseter needs to improve with the ball at his feet, the head coach likes the strength and speed Maund brings to his new position.
And with former German international Torsten Frings out for the season after hip surgery, Maund is getting plenty of opportunity to learn on the job.
“He’s doing well,” Mariner told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s 3-0 win over CD Águila in a CONCACAF Champions League group march in El Salvador. “He’s got to improve his passing but he’s a young player and when you’re unfamiliar with the role it’s difficult to just jump into it straight away.”
Maund was paired with Terry Dunfield in central midfield for Tuesday’s game. Dunfield was the hero of the game, as acting captain and scoring two goals. Maund did in his part too in Toronto’s first win in all competitions since Aug. 1.
“He’s covering ground, he’s breaking things up,” Mariner said. “His passing is getting much, much better. I’m happy with him.”
And Maund is happy with his new position.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “There’s more freedom. It’s not so different. It’s in the center, which is where I want to be. There’s a lot of space in there, and [it takes] a lot of athleticism and my strength is being able to cover a lot of ground fast and that’s important being a defensive mid. I think that’s the main thing. I’m comfortable with that. I feel it’s been going well for me so far.”
He added that just playing at the professional level has been a learning experience both on and off the field.
“Everything is faster, quicker, the play is a little, different, a little more physical so that’s the transition and I feel I’ve made that transition pretty well ,” he said. “Off the field it’s just about managing your body, the season is a lot longer so you have to take really good care of yourself.”