TORONTO – Only a few days remain before Toronto FC fly west for their season opener, but Jermain Defoe looks to indeed be a part of the club's plans after landing in the city at last.
With a crowd of cameras gathered for his debut training session on Monday, Defoe took part in a light scrimmage before moving over to practice shooting alongside fellow Designated Player Michael Bradley and Andrew Wiedeman. Defoe impressed with his dipping, curved shots, which, more often than not, found the back of the net.
“Yeah, it feels good,” Defoe told reporters when asked how he feels about his first training session. “Obviously a little bit strange when you first come in. The lads have been fantastic. I had a good training session, I feel sharp, so yeah, [I’m] happy.”
Toronto FC have been hit with an injury bug as of late, and there was concern about the status of the English international before the club’s first game of the season against Seattle on Saturday (4:30 pm ET, NBCSN, TSN/RDS2 in Canada). Defoe says he’s feeling good and ready to go, though his limited practice time with the rest of his team was of some concern.
“I mentioned it before, I was 100 percent, so there’s no problems,” Defoe said. “Obviously it helps, the more you play with the players, it helps going into the season. Hopefully, in training, they will understand how I play and vice versa and it’ll be OK.”
With his TFC career now in full swing, Defoe has one eye on the MLS season and the other on a spot in England's World Cup roster.
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“It’s at the back of my mind,” Defoe said. “First and foremost, it’s important to concentrate on your club and make sure your form’s good. As a forward, you get judged on scoring goals. That’s on my mind first and foremost and then we’ll see what happens with the World Cup.”
The transition from the English Premier League to Major League Soccer is one that Defoe is taking day by day. His first training session was on a turf surface and his first game likely will be as well, and that is something to which he will need to adjust.
“It’s not something I’m used to, to be honest,” Defoe said. “Even training today, it’s the first time in years where I’ve actually trained on this kind of surface. It’s something you’re going to have to get used to and you can’t really make excuses because it’s the same for both teams, same for all the players.
"I suppose it’s just part and parcel of traveling away and playing on these kinds of pitches.”