TFC's future lookin' good

Toronto FC's director of player personnel Paul Mariner speaks with the media at the club's wrap-up...

Toronto FC's director of player personnel Paul Mariner speaks with the media at the club's wrap-up media conference at BMO Field in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 24, 2011. (CRAIG ROBERTSON/QMI Agency)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

TORONTO - One major benefit for a team building from the ground up is an opportunity to see what its young prospects can do.

TFC intends to focus heavily on its youth academy and developing homegrown talent going forward.

So far, so good.

The team gave young Canadians Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry and Matt Stinson considerable playing time in 2011.

Morgan, a defender from Toronto, got into 14 league games — nine of them starts — and showed well enough in them and in CONCACAF competition to earn a call-up to the Canadian national team.

He now projects to be an important piece for the club moving forward.

Fellow defender Doneil Henry, who became the first TFC Academy graduate last season, got into 10 MLS games — six were starts — and came on late, particularly in tournament play against FC Dallas.

Midfielder Matt Stinson, who played 13 games, making five starts, said as the season wore on, the youngsters gained confidence.

“We actually got some serious playing time, I think that’s a big motivation for the younger guys,” Stinson said.

Toronto’s Oscar Cordon also got into four games.

Assistant coach Bob de Klerk said the team is looking to the future, even though it is hard to balance the pressure of “going for now vs. developing.”

DANGEROUS DANNY KOEVERMANS

Danny Koevermans isn’t a fiery, rah, rah type. He lets his play motivate his teammates

The big striker, who scored an incredible eight goals in 10 league matches with TFC, does his talking on the pitch.

“Everybody says leadership this, leadership that,” he told the Sun.

“My leadership, it’s got to be making the goals.

“If I have something to say to the guys I say it one-on-one, not on the pitch screaming. The main thing I see for me is to get points and to score goals.”

Koevermans wasn’t sure what to expect when he made the move from Europe to MLS, but says he has been pleasantly surprised.

After Saturday’s season finale, he said “this is not a Mickey Mouse league,” and on Monday he added: “Everybody here is an athlete, everybody is so fast.”

Koevermans never quite got into full match fitness and hopes to be even more effective — if that’s possible — in the future.

“Hopefully these goals next year will bring us more points,” he said.

TRAVEL WEARS ON REDS

If the Reds want to make a trip to the playoffs a reality for the first time next season, the team’s deplorable road record must be improved.

The team went 1-9-7 away from BMO Field in 2011 and has just 10 away victories through its first five campaigns.

“If you win four times on the road, then you would have made it,” said designated player Danny Koevermans.

Only two MLS sides finished above .500 on the road, and according to various Toronto players, travel is the culprit.

“It’s tough. If you look over in Europe it’s a lot less travel, you take a bus,” said forward Peri Marosevic.

“Here it’s Vancouver or L.A., it’s quite the trip for us. Travel takes a lot of toll on your body especially with us in CONCACAF, going to Central America. It’s tough on the body, sometimes you just can’t really get used to it.”

In addition to jetting across North America, Toronto also played matches in Nicaragua, Mexico and Panama.

Though Koevermans didn’t anticipate the grind, he said he is happy the club takes non-league competitions seriously.

“If we weren’t (playing in South and Central America), it would have been much easier, but you want to be there,” Koevermans said.


Videos

Photos