The mood at Toronto FC is much better this season, according to rising stars

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Jayden Nelson showed it all on the pitch last Saturday in Toronto FC’s 1-1 draw against FC Dallas, playing one of his best games in MLS.

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And this week, after a team training session at BMO Field, Nelson put it on. Not holding anything back, the local TFC player explained how the atmosphere has improved around the club this year.

Last year, the Reds suffered a disastrous 28-point (in 34 games) season that saw the hiring, then firing, of two head coaches. There were reports during the 2021 season that some players were unhappy, weren’t giving 100% in every game, maybe didn’t want to play at all. And although each side has played just one game in MLS so far this season, Nelson – considered one of MLS’s hottest young prospects – said everything was different this year – for the better. .

“It’s more refreshing,” said the Brampton native. “I feel like now it’s more (veteran players) wanting to help the youngsters come up and stuff like that. It’s kind of a better environment. It’s totally different in the dressing room. “It’s more, I would say less ego. It’s more of a family in the dressing room. So it’s nice to be there now.

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Subtle but revealing words.

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Nelson went on to say, without naming names, that it was sometimes difficult to get along with some of the veterans last year. This year’s TFC roster is fairly new, although there is a core of returning veterans including Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Alejandro Pozuelo and Chris Mavinga. Others left.

Nelson gives a lot of credit for the more positive atmosphere at the club this season to new manager Bob Bradley. Again, it’s only been one game, but the former U.S. national team head coach certainly doesn’t seem reluctant to play his young players, like Nelson.

Last Saturday in Dallas, Bradley started three teenagers, all of them Canadian, as well as a few guys in their early twenties. The result was good enough for all – including 17-year-old Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and 22-year-old Jacob Shaffelburg, both wingers who moved to full-back (under Bradley’s tutelage) during camp this year.

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Under these circumstances, both played well against Dallas, although the game was certainly a learning experience for both players. Marshall-Rutty, in his first game as a right-back, was named to the MLS Team of the Week. Shaffelburg picked up an assist on the TFC goal (scored by Osorio) and also a questionable yellow card after bringing down Paul Arriola after the Dallas star managed to get behind him with the ball in midfield.

“Right after the yellow card, (Arriola) kind of smiled at me and said, ‘That’s not a yellow.’ He’s a nice guy,” Shaffelburg said.

As for Nelson, the Reds were waiting for the Canada international to explode offensively and, against Dallas, he came close to achieving that with a number of good runs, assists and scoring chances.

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“Bob has been great since he arrived,” Nelson said. “He’s been very active with me and all the young guys, everybody in the team. For me, he just asks me to be more confident, to take on the guys and make those runs behind, and to to be a threat in the final third. That’s what he really wants from me and that’s what I’m going to give him.

Shaffelburg admits taking on a new role as a full-back has been a challenge, on the pitch as well as mentally. But the Port Williams, NS native said the coach is behind him.

“Honestly, it’s been great because some days I don’t have the best confidence possible as a left-back,” said Shaffelburg, who has played on the wing throughout his career. “If I make a few mistakes in training, or whatever, it’s a bit difficult for me. But just knowing that Bob trusts me through this and sees more than a few mistakes has been very helpful for me to move on.

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“I think he’s all of the above,” Nelson added when asked if Bradley’s strength as a manager was as a teacher or a communicator. “He’s direct with everyone and he doesn’t really do favoritism or anything. If you’re a reserve player or a starter, it’s the same. That’s what I think the stands out from the old managers. It’s refreshing to have him here.

The Reds’ home opener is this Saturday at BMO Field (2 p.m.) against the visiting New York Red Bulls.

CIMINI NEW COACH TFC II

Gianni Cimini has been named head coach of TFC II ahead of his first MLS NEXT Pro season.

Cimini, 38, has spent the past 10 years working with the TFC Academy as head coach of the U-12, U-16 and U-17 age groups, as well as being the technical director of the Academy from 2015 to 2017.

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In March 2020, Cimini was listed as an honorable mention on Major League Soccer’s list of “academy coaches ready to make the leap to the first team”.

Marco Casalinuovo, 36, joins TFC II as an assistant manager after spending seven years coaching with the TFC Academy.

SINGH MOVEMENT OFFICIAL

TFC management on Thursday confirmed news that Bradley announced on Wednesday – defender Luke Singh has been loaned to FC Edmonton from the CPL, until December 2022.

Singh, 21, has made eight combined appearances and scored one goal for TFC in the 2021 season. He has also spent time with TFC II.

Singh originally signed with TFC as a local player on April 16, 2021 and made his MLS debut on April 17 against CF Montreal.

Internationally, Singh represented Trinidad and Tobago at youth level at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship.

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