TORONTO – Coming off three straight disappointing draws in league play, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen was a happy manager on a number of levels following his club’s win in the opening leg of the Amway Canadian Championship tournament on Wednesday evening at BMO Field.
While he was happy to see his club on the winning end of a result and appreciative of the fact that his team is now in the pole position toadvance to the final of the ACC, Nelsen was most encouraged by what Toronto’s 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact illustrated about the depth that his squad possesses.
“I know now that I have 22 players who can put on a Toronto shirt and play at any level,” Nelsen said at his postmatch press conference. “We played a lot of young players today and they did a lot of solid hard work in the first half to set up their solid performance in the second half.”
With a league fixture on Saturday looming, Nelsen elected to rest starters such as Robert Earnshaw, Hogan Ephraim and Darren O’Dea and he was rewarded with positive performances by young depth players such as Andrew Wiedeman and Ryan Richter.
“It gives me confidence. I’m learning about the players as well. Every day I am learning about the players,” Nelsen added. “From what I have seen at training, I have been really impressed. It correlated into the game and it is impressive to see such young players play with the maturity that they did.”
On a day in which his team was competing in Canada’s premier club competition, Nelsen was also quick to highlight the performances of the five young Canadian players – Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry, Kyle Bekker (above), Jonathan Osorio and Emery Welshman – who played key roles in Toronto’s vanquishing of their rivals from Quebec.
“Doneil has been very good for the past couple of months. He is very strong and you forget his age because of his stature and the way he carries himself,” Nelsen said. “I thought Kyle Bekker was really good. He grew into the game. I think he probably just tired a wee bit at the end because we asked him to do more than he is used and he did fantastic.
"Ashtone was brave and he is getting better and better with each game. Jon is improving every day and it was good to get Emery back on the field after his injury. They are five really young and talented players who are only going to grow each game, each day and each week and they will only get better and better.”