TORONTO – Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner says his young back four are learning on the job – and doing so quickly.
Central defender Logan Emory showed what Mariner meant on Saturday at BMO Field, with a tackle in the 76th minute that preserved a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls. The 23-year-old was quick to react after Thierry Henry’s pass put Joel Lindpere through on the Toronto goal, making a sliding, saving tackle to knock the ball away.
“Logan Emory, for me, is a bit of an unsung hero,” said Mariner, who signed Emory after seeing him play with Orlando City during preseason. “He’s one of those guys who go underneath the radar. He sort of very, very quietly goes about his business extremely well."
For Emory, it was a lesson learned from a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact back on April 7, a game in which he picked up a red card for his tackle in a similar situation. This time, his starting position was better.
“It’s just being in the right spot,” Emory said after Saturday’s match. “I trust the right side that they’re going to stop things but if they don’t then I have to be there and today I was lucky enough to get a foot on it.
“In Montreal, I put the referee in a difficult position so I can’t argue it," Emory continued. "All you can do is try to learn and this was almost the exact same situation and [Saturday] was better, so that’s a good sign that things are improving and that I’m learning from my mistakes.”
The man who had the best view of it – goalkeeper Milos Kocic – had nothing but praise for the youngster.
“That was a great tackle,” Kocic said. “First of all it was a great run following [Lindpere]. I didn’t know he was going to make it. It looked like he was far behind and then he was sliding and kicked it out.”
And plays like that have been the difference as TFC have gone unbeaten in their last four under Mariner. It may have been emergency defending, but it got the job done.
“It was a game-changer,” fellow defender Jeremy Hall said. “[Lindpere] was in there for a breakaway on a great ball by Thierry. He just runs in and Logan did a great job of following him before he got to it.”
And as a result, Toronto claim another point – and another valuable lesson for their young backline.