Welshman Adjusts To New Role

Transition from college to MLS, striker to wide player for young Canadian.

Photo: Welshman in preseason action at Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic (Getty)

The transition continues for Emery Welshman since Toronto FC made him their second pick in last month’s MLS SuperDraft.

As he moves from playing for Oregon State in the college ranks to the faster professional game, he has been asked to learn a new position.

Instead of playing in his customary striker’s role he has been lining up as a midfielder on the left side for his home-town team.

So far the transitions have gone well for the 21-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario. He has shown enough in preseason to entertain thoughts about being on the starting team on March 2 when the Reds open their season in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.

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Video: Emery Welshman on Toronto FC TV.
 

“I’m not too worried about that,” Welshman told MLSsocccer.com after training on Tuesday. “Actually, I just hope the coach puts the best team out that can win the game for us. If I’m part of those plans, I’d be happy to start. Of course, that would be a true blessing for me. I’d be happy even to get a couple of minutes in.  So I’m not worried about pushing the start. Everybody has their time. If it happens, it happens.”

The position change did not come as a surprise. He had heard about the possibility before he was made the 16th player taken overall in the draft.

“At the combine I remember them saying, I guess for now, my early years, it would be practical if I started out wide,” he said. “I was hearing that from a couple of other MLS teams as well. So I wasn’t surprised by the jump. Hopefully if I can show my quality there I can make a smoother transition and maybe one day get back up top.”

It means that every day of preseason has been a learning experience for him from the beginning in Toronto last month until now in Orlando.

“Everything is new to me from being predominately a striker my whole career,” he said. “I’m learning every day. I’m learning positioning. I’m learning where to track back. I’m learning just a lot more tactical stuff that goes along with playing midfield. It’s a big adjustment period I’ve been going through.”

Welshman also knows he has much to improve on. “Definitely my crossing needs improved,” he said. “And just the one v. one side of the game. I’m not bad at it but it’s easier when you’re a striker to just try and beat the defender and then take a strike. Now I’m trying to beat a defender, trying to link up play, trying to beat the defender, trying to make a cross or shoot. There’s a lot more to it that I have to become accustomed to. I’m just learning as I go.”

All this while wearing the uniform of the team he has followed since the first season, 2007.

“It feels great,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true.”