TORONTO – Freddy Hall is Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner’s insurance policy in goal.
With Stefan Frei out with a broken leg since late March, Milos Kocic has played every minute of every game in goal in the league and in all but one game in other competitions.
The top backup has been 17-year-old Quillan Roberts, a TFC Academy product. And while Mariner is high on Roberts' potential, he's been very clear about wanting a more experienced deputy for Kocic.
So after a three-week trial, he signed Hall, a 27-year-old with four caps for the Bermudan national team and someone Mariner brought to Plymouth Argyle when he was there a couple of years ago.
“With losing Stefan, Milos has been under so much pressure this season,” Mariner said. “I didn’t think if Milos went down that it was fair to put [Roberts] in. I didn’t want to ruin him, so I thought it was prudent that we got Freddy.”
Mariner had wanted to sign Hall for Plymouth Argyle but the club was in administration and couldn’t swing a deal.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Hall said. “I really want to try to grow here and hopefully strengthen the already strong goalkeeper ranks. When he was assistant gaffer at Plymouth, he brought me over but because they went into administration we couldn’t finalize the deal and stuff. He’s a great guy, such a player's coach for sure and it’s just great to be able to work with him.”
Mariner said that when Hall first arrived at Plymouth Argyle, there was a “horrific thunder storm.”
“And the goalkeeper coach asked me how often has he played in rain,” Mariner recalled. “I said he’s never played in rain, and his handling was unbelievable. We wanted to sign him.”
When that did not work out, Mariner said, “I tracked him, followed him and, because of circumstances over in England with the financial situation, he was available.”
Hall said he talked to Reggie Lambe, a Toronto FC midfielder who also is from Bermuda.
“He said it’s a great place, a great city,” Hall said.
Hall’s last regular-season match was with Northampton Town in England’s League Two in April, but he did play in the friendly against Liverpool on July 21.
“Playing against Liverpool, a historic team, is an honor first and foremost but once you get over the nervousness you take it like a normal game,” he said.
Hall also has played at South Florida University and at Quinnipiac University. And he has no illusions about his role with Toronto.
“Milos is the starter,” he said. “I’m just here to be a strong backup right now and just get back into the groove of things.”