Club and Country

Toronto FC's Richie Laryea on Canada's potential, rumored European move

Since joining Toronto FC as a talented but still unproven prospect in 2019, Richie Laryea has experienced a remarkable rise to one of the best players at his position in MLS.

The fullback has parlayed his strong performance at the club level into some rumored interest from European suitors, as well as a role with a Canadian men's national team, where he's picked up eight senior caps and one goal since making his debut in 2019.

Laryea joined the latest episode of Extratime: Club and Country where discussed, among other topics, the future for the CanMNT and his personal goals going forward in his career. Regarding the question as to his ultimate aspirations, the 26-year-old said they he still has dreams of playing overseas and that he believes continuing his strong form with TFC can help him achieve that.

"Yes, my goal is definitely to get to Europe," Laryea told hosts David Gass and Charlie Davies. "That's what I dreamed of as a kid playing with my brother in the backyard, you're screaming out Champions League Final goals, World Cup goals, so those are goals I had as a kid that I'm not giving up on. I want to play at the highest level possible and the best competition possible, so that's still not out of mind for me. I'm definitely set on trying to do something like that.

"Will it happen? Time will tell. It also depends I think mostly on me and my performances and the other bit I'll leave to whoever else has to sort that out for me, or whatever that might be. But I'm just fully focused on the now and doing well and once you're doing well it opens up a lot of different things, so hopefully I can reach those goals I want to like Europe and whatever else it might be."

As for the CanMNT, Laryea said that there's plenty of excitement internally, both about the crop of young talent tasked with taking the program to the next level, as well as the 2026 World Cup, which Canada is set to host along with the US and Mexico.

The key, Laryea said, will be keeping a level head amid the hype, and making sure to not let their minds stray from the present, with a whole World Cup Qualifying cycle for 2022 coming up before any thoughts of 2026 need to enter their minds.

"I think everyone in the group knows what's at stake and what's there waiting for us, which is exciting for our country and this group because I think we have a very good group," Laryea said. "We did say collectively I think that now is more important to us than thinking ahead to 2026. Yes, that's exciting, we have a very exciting young group of players that I think are going to contribute in a very big way and be very good for this country and I think take this country to places it's never been before.

"So that part I'm very hopeful, optimistic and I think we have the group, the talent and the leadership as well to do it. But I think collectively I think we're not even thinking that far, there's a World Cup that's coming up before that [in 2022] that we need to qualify for and we need to show ourselves — and everyone else, but more importantly ourselves — that we're capable of doing something like this. So I think everyone is so focused on right now and what we need to do. We're thinking about June, and those games that we need to play, and get by those and then we look at what's next."