HOUSTON – Doneil Henry probably wishes he could forget completely about his performance this past Saturday. Instead, he knows that his experience over the weekend is one he can learn from and improve upon.
Still just 19 years old and the youngest member in a youth-heavy Canadian national team squad, Henry was used out of position at right back in Canada’s 4-0 loss to Denmark in Tucson, Ariz. Though he is more comfortable in the center of defense, he's not using that as an excuse.
“You know what? I know I got caught a few times,” Henry told MLSsoccer.com after Canada’s training session on Monday. “It wasn’t easy, but it’s definitely something I can learn on, but the coaches have been really supportive and I’m ready to go with whatever happens.”
He'll get a chance to turn things around on Tuesday when Canada take on the United States at BBVA Compass Stadium (9 pm ET, Sportsnet in Canada, ESPN2/Univision Deportes in US; live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
It’s the beginning of a busy few months for Henry, as he’ll also be a member of the Under-20 team that will be in Mexico in February for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which also serves as the qualifier for this summer's FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Though he's still very raw, it's apparent the talent to succeed at a higher level is there. Henry already has 29 MLS appearances with Toronto FC under his belt and knows how important the next few months are for his development.
“We’re in preseason right now, so getting games right away is really good,” he said. “I’m trying to get game fit so it’s perfect. It will help me going into U-20s early next month. It’s a big year, so I’ve got to keep fit so I’m just excited.”
With nothing on the line in the January games for Canada, it’s the perfect time for a young player like Henry to make mistakes so long as he learns from them.
A backline is only as strong as the lines of communication between the players, of which Denmark cruelly reminded the Canadians, and it’s something Henry knows he’ll be working on.
“Communication is key,” he said. “When you have so many runners coming at you you’ve got to know where you’re going and who’s helping and who to mark so you listen to those experienced players.”