TORONTO – With much speculation surrounding his future in Toronto FC in recent weeks, right back Richard Eckersley confirmed on Monday that he has most likely played his last game for the Reds.
“I’m still to speak to Ryan [Nelsen] and the rest of the coaches, but I think it is clear to see that I’m not going to be here next season,” Eckersley told reporters at Toronto FC’s end-of-season media event on Monday.
“I have great memories of my time in Toronto. We didn’t have a lot of success on the pitch, but personally I felt great here. The fans have been fantastic and the players I have played with have been great. I think moving forward, if this club is successful, it will be one of the best teams in the league to play for.”
After starting the season as one of the first names on head coach Nelsen’s lineup sheet, the 24-year-old Worsley, England, native missed a significant run of games due to an injury suffered in April and then later saw himself replaced in Toronto’s lineup at the tail end of the season by newcomer Mark Bloom.
With Nelsen reiterating on Monday that Eckersley’s contract is simply too large for a left back in Major League Soccer, the defender could only lament both the manner in which his season played out and the fact that he did not get to take part in Toronto’s final home match of the season.
“It’s disappointing,” Eckersley said. “I wanted to end my time here on a positive note and to not be involved in the last game was disappointing to say the least. I would have liked to have thanked the fans and stuff like that. But I can understand Ryan’s point of view and the way he was doing things because he was planning for the future. I would probably do the same thing if I was a coach.”
Eckersley has a guaranteed contract for the 2014 campaign, so it appears that Toronto will be looking to negotiate a buyout with the Manchester United youth product in the coming weeks.
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While his days as a member of Toronto FC appear to be numbered, supporters might still get a chance to see the fan favorite patrolling the right flank in a Major League Soccer match next season.
“You have seasons like this sometimes and it is not always going to be smooth sailing,” Eckersley added. “I’d like to stay in the MLS because, if you are playing for a successful team in the playoff hunt and in the postseason, the tension and the atmosphere of the games is unbelievable.”