MARIETTA, Ga. — The MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer is a unique experience for some of the brightest young talent in the league and in a 1-1 draw against defending Liga MX Under-20 champion Tigres on Tuesday night, it was Toronto FC midfielder Liam Fraser’s opportunity to shine.
Fraser, a more defensive-minded midfielder rarely seen on the scoresheet, latched on to the second ball from Atlanta’s Andrew Carleton’s whipped in free-kick and calmly finished his chance just before the half-time whistle to score the Homegrown’s lone goal.
“I’m happy for it, but overall disappointed that we couldn’t get the result,” Fraser said after the game. “It was something that we were really edging for and something that we really wanted, but it was a great experience to get out there with an unbelievable group of lads. I think we all did our part today, showing what the future holds in MLS.”
The Surrey, BC native signed as a Homegrown Player with Toronto FC in January, spending the last two seasons with Toronto FC II in the USL. The 20-year-old made significant progress with the first team this season, starting five matches, making eight total appearances and logging 456 minutes.
“I’ve always said I’ll do anything to help the team and today it was scoring that goal,” Fraser said. “Everyone really played a part in the performance today and just helping the team was big for me.”
What stood out in Fraser’s game was his composure. Bobby Warshaw praised Fraser's while broadcasting the game for his positioning in his defensive midfield role. “It’s not so much about his running and the ground he covers, but being in good spots,” Warshaw noted.
“I’m a pretty composed guy just in general, so when it came to me I knew what to do. I didn’t really rush or overreact to the situation,” Fraser said.
Fraser, who has captained Canada’s U-20 team, is hopeful that 2018 will stand as a crucial juncture in his development.
“[Michael Bradley has] been massive in helping me in that [midfield] role and pushing me forward,” Fraser said. “I think learning that position and role from him more than anything and some of the other midfielders in there—Jonathan (Osorio), (Victor) Vazquez, Marky [Delgado], Jay [Chapman]. I’m just learning a lot from the experiences that I get.
“In that sense I’m pleased with my progress and I know the coaching staff have been pushing me, and I’ve been working hard and hopefully my chance comes.”