TORONTO – This season just keeps getting better for Ashtone Morgan.
The 20-year-old left back has steadily increased his playing time for Toronto FC and on Thursday was named for the first time to the Canadian team ahead of World Cup qualifiers against St. Lucia and Puerto Rico next month.
Through it all, though, the Toronto FC Academy graduate has kept a level approach.
“I like to take it day by day, you know what I mean?” he said on Monday. “And whenever I get the opportunity to start, I like to just get on the field and perform to the best of my ability, express myself as much as I can. And just get as comfortable as I can in that position, so I can make it like a fulltime job.”
The Toronto native has made 11 league appearances this season, and has started each of the past four matches. He also has played in all seven games in the CONCACAF Champions League, including the start in Tuesday’s 1-1 tie with Pumas UNAM.
“It’s really exciting to get these last few starts and actually producing,” he said. “It’s been a good feeling.”
In the 2-1 victory over Colorado on Sept. 17, he made the cross to set up Danny Koevermans’ first goal and made a goal line clearance to help preserve the win.
“You have to be careful with those players because they’re not ready and now after seven months you can see that they are making improvement,” head coach Aron Winter said. “You can use them slowly to let them play the minutes, and Ashtone has done it well. You can see that he is strong and he’s a little bit further than the other ones.”
Morgan has been able to show his speed and ability to send over crosses when midfielder Torsten Frings has dropped back into the sweeper role recent games. This allows the fullbacks more freedom to move up to be involved in the attack.
The system plays to Morgan’s strengths.
“Definitely the way we’ve been playing has been helping me,” Morgan said. “I’m able to help the team with my strengths and get those balls into Danny or Ryan [Johnson] and help us put some crosses in from the left side.”
As exciting as it has been, he knows there is still work to do.
“I try not to get too far ahead of myself,” he said. “I try to stay as grounded as I can and be humble with the situation and the whole experience that has been given to me.
“My friends are all going crazy,” the Toronto native added. “My family’s going crazy. It’s a really big thing for them. Sometimes it seems like it’s a bigger thing for them than it is for me. It’s really cool.”