Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston has extolled the virtues of midfielder Ronnie O'Brien ever since he picked up the Irishman in the Major League Soccer expansion draft from FC Dallas late last season.
There were some who were critical of paying a premium -- O'Brien's deal is worth $258,750 US a season -- especially after he was coming off a season where he was banished to the bench in Dallas.
But yesterday, in his first MLS start for his new team, O'Brien paid dividends.
The 28-year-old O'Brien had missed all four of TFC's games after suffering a partial tear to his right knee ligament and still was wearing a brace in practice this week.
"It just shows that Ronnie on one leg is better than most players with two," Johnston said.
O'Brien was taken out of yesterday's game as a precaution after rookie Maurice Edu had scored to make it 3-1 in Toronto's favour.
But it was his work on the field that set up both the first goal by Danny Dichio and second by Kevin Goldthwaite.
"I was able to get free down the side both times," O'Brien said. "And just got the ball to the middle where those guys took over."
He said his knee felt fine after the game but would wait to see how it felt today before declaring himself 100% ready for Wednesday's game against MLS champion Houston Dynamo.
"Maybe it's just the adrenalin from the win and the crowd, but I feel great right now," he said.
"I'll wear the brace in practice again this week, though, because I don't want to take any chances."
The other TFC starter on the mend is forward Alecko Eskandarian, who missed yesterday's game because of a bruised calf.
"It is still a day to day thing with Alecko," Johnston said.