Smith unpacks his bags

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

At the tender age of 21, Johann Smith is aware of fate's fickle nature.

Just as he was poised to play in Toronto last summer, a third-degree ankle sprain deprived Smith of an opportunity to represent the U.S. at FIFA's under-20 World Cup.

When word began to circulate this spring that Major League Soccer was eyeing Smith, several teams expressed interest. Little did Smith know that Toronto FC was among the suitors.

"Bags and bags of ability,'' TFC head coach John Carver said in assessment of Smith. "He's got bags of pace, but he needs to control that."

Having suited up for his latest side and having experienced a sampling of Toronto's mosaic, Smith is relishing his moment in Hogtown, however long it may last.

LIFE'S MYSTERIOUS

"Life works in mysterious ways,'' Smith said yesterday after TFC ended its training session at BMO Field.

"It's weird when you think I'd be playing here last year and now I find myself here on a professional basis.

"Who knows what the future holds for me, but hopefully it's positive."

Smith's initial impressions of the TFC organization and Toronto are positively positive.

He traversed the city's streets Wednesday and later attended Canada's 1-1 draw against Jamaica, where Smith's family has deep roots.

"At this point, I feel very comfortable,'' he said. "I'm happy to be here and maybe my career will kick-start here."

A midfielder who also can play forward, Smith says he has developed a bond with teammate Rohan Ricketts, providing TFC with two players who can attack from both flanks.

TFC acquired the speedy Smith last week by sending allocation money and by swapping allocation places with New England, a team that invades BMO Field tomorrow.

Smith made his TFC debut Sunday in a 2-0 away loss to New York. Carver was reluctant to start Smith on Sunday in the wake of fitness concerns.

"Since the end of May, he's played 90 minutes and that includes the 45 minutes he played for us,'' Carver said of Smith, a one-time member of the English Premier League's Bolton Wanderers who was on loan to several teams.

"He's a young lad, but we've got him at the right age."

Like any aspiring footballer, Smith's dream is to return to England and become a full-time member of a top-division club.

For now, his focus is on TFC and evolving as a player.

"I'm always hard on myself,'' Smith said. "I'm never satisfied and I'm always trying to get better."

Speed is one of Smith's biggest assets, a dimension that puts pressure on defences and allows for scoring opportunities.

Perhaps Carver's greatest challenge is to harness Smith.

Carver, though, wants players with pace and power, and Smith fits the bill.


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