TORONTO – Toronto FC’s Issey Nakajima-Farran has a wide-ranging perspective when it comes to the world’s many soccer leagues.
Having played from Australia to Denmark and now in Major League Soccer – with a number of stops in between – the Canadian international has seen it all. And now with six games into his time with TFC heading into the team’s first weekend off, Nakajima-Farran has gotten a good taste of MLS and appears to be fitting in quite nicely to his new digs.
Articulate and experienced, Nakajima-Farran has filled in the vacancy left in midfield by Álvaro Rey’s injury in style, scoring the opening goal against FC Dallas in Toronto FC’s 2-1 loss last weekend. It was his second goal of the season in four appearances. Nakajima-Farran was pleased with the goal and dedicated it to someone special.
“Oh, it felt good,” Nakajima-Farran said. “It was my little boy’s birthday that day, too, so for me it was very memorable. It’s always nice to score. It was nice to make my little boy proud.”
Two goals in four games are numbers Nakajima-Farran hasn’t put up in many seasons. His last stint was in Cyprus, where he played for AEK Larnaca, as well as on loan to Alki Larnaca, where he had a combined four goals in 25 games.
Before Cyprus, Nakajima-Farran played in Australia, Denmark, Singapore and Japan. With Toronto FC, he’s finding out first hand where MLS stands on a global scale.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised at the standard and also how professional the guys are on and off the pitch,” Nakajima-Farran said. “You can really see from each different culture and country how football dictates lifestyles, and that obviously differs in how professional you are and how you treat your body.”
Despite Toronto’s injury woes, Nakajima-Farran was pleased with the quality of the team staff, too.
“Everybody [here] is extremely professional with all the treatments after and before, every little aspect to make your body that much better,” Nakajima-Farran said. “That really does show on team plays.”
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So how does MLS compare to the likes of the A-League, Danish league or the J-league?
“A lot of the guys are very athletic and very fast,” Nakajima-Farran said, before pointing out that MLS offers a unique off-the-field experience as well.
“All the events and entertainment before and during the game, the fireworks and everything – you don’t see that in Europe,” Nakajima-Farran added. “It’s actually nice to see, there’s more hype to it. American style, right?”
He said the team recently went to a Toronto Raptors game.
“The whole team went out,” he said. “To see the whole entertainment, the buzz, it gets the people going. It’s nice to see that. In football, you don’t really see that, it’s all the fans doing it themselves. Over here, there’s an event, fans, everybody’s part of it. It’s definitely good.”