Tosaint Ricketts hopeful stable club situation leads to more Canada success

Tosaint Ricketts - Toronto FC - tries to bring a ball down with a defender on his back

A whole lot has changed for Tosaint Ricketts in the past four years.

He started off 2012 as a member of Politehnica Timișoara in Romania and a fringe starter for the Canadian national team, for whom he’d debuted the previous year.

By October of 2012, his Romanian club had been dissolved and, through a combination of injury and suspension to other players, he’d been thrust him into a starting role for Canada in a do-or-die World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

That game, as no fan can forget, ended extraordinarily badly for Canada.

In the intervening years, the stability of Ricketts’ club career has been inversely proportional to that of his national-team career. Even as he’s bounced between clubs in Norway, Turkey and Israel, the 29-year-old has become an automatic fixture for Canada under head coach Benito Floro.

But as the rematch in San Pedro Sula approaches on Friday (5 pm ET, TSN), it appears the Edmonton-born attacker has finally found some equilibrium, after signing with Toronto FC this summer.

“I feel great,” Ricketts told by phone. “It’s been a while since I’ve been truly comfortable with a club team—just all-around lifestyle, the way I’m being treated by the club and feeling like I have a place to call home.

“That’s the feeling I get from TFC in these early stages. That has helped me adapt fairly quickly and I’m just happy, I’m enjoying football again.”   

It’s showing on the field, as Ricketts’ two goals thus far for Toronto have both been confident finishes in one-on-one situations. It’s a far cry from four years ago in San Pedro Sula, when Ricketts missed an early opportunity to put Canada up 1-0.

“It was obviously a bad experience for all of us, and one you try to forget,” said Ricketts. “But there was a lot we learned from that experience.

“For me personally, I know exactly what to expect there. I know the weather. I know the fans; they’re going to be hostile. I know how Honduras is going to come out and basically put us under pressure, and this time around we’re just more mature. I don’t think there’s much that’s going to surprise us this time.”

In addition to drawing from the experience of that game four years ago, Ricketts believes that the plan laid out by Floro will lead to a much different outcome than the team’s last visit to Honduras.

“[Everyone] knows exactly what we’re going to do tactically and what we need to do to get the result,” Ricketts said. “Everyone’s going to be on the same page this time around.”

Buying into that tactical plan has been crucial for Ricketts, who earned his 50th national-team cap earlier this summer. And Ricketts’ work ethic and versatility have earned him the trust of the team’s well-traveled manager.

“To have Tos [with the team] is very important and very positive,” Floro told last week. “Tos is a special player because at the same time, he’s a special person.”

Ricketts says having the support of the Canada manager, even when his club career was in tumult, has been massive in his development as a player – and it’s clear that it’s a mutual affinity.

“I respect him a lot,” Ricketts said of Floro. “He’s showed me a side of the game that I’d never really seen before. He’s a special guy.”

After enduring various ups and downs in the past half-decade, Ricketts appears to be in the right place at the right time to hopefully help Canada reach the Hexagonal round for the first time in nearly 20 years.

“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “It’s been a long road and we had to fight through a lot of adversity to get to this point. Now we’re in a situation where we can rewrite the history.”