Nelsen Encouraged by a Healthy Team
TORONTO - Unbeaten at home and with two credible road performances to his team’s credit, Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen is encouraged by the current state of his team as he begins his second month of league competition as a Major League Soccer manager.
Nelsen especially likes the fact he now has selection headaches to contend with.
After starting Toronto’s 2013 campaign without key players who were out of action due to injury, the TFC gaffer now has his entire squad available to him, with the exception of Designated Player Danny Koevermans, who is still out with an ACL injury and who is not expected back until later on in the summer.
“It is a credit to our medical team and our sports science guys that the players are looking pretty sharp and fit,” Nelsen told MLSSoccer.com. “We have no injuries, so touch wood.”
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Attacking midfielder Luis Silva made his return to the pitch on Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy after missing TFC’s first three games due to a hamstring injury and made an immediate impression while setting up the Reds second goal of the game. Keeper Stefan Frei has also recovered from a broken nose and was on the bench on the weekend, but did not play.
Silva linked up with fellow second half substitute Jonathan Osorio and set up the rookie midfielder for his first MLS goal via some fantastic footwork and a great ball into the box.
Nelsen indicated after the match that he saw the standout contributions of his two young midfielders as something that was indicative of the growing team depth that he and his staff have been working to achieve since taking over at Toronto FC.
“I think (the depth is starting to show). Silva and Osorio came on and played very well. I still have guys on the bench who I can’t even get in the squad who are International players. It’s starting to get deep,” Nelsen said. “We are always looking to improve the squad and we are still trying to bring in players who will be able to create even more competition.”
Performances like those delivered by Silva and Osorio against the Galaxy usually produce a domino effect on teams. With talented young players making a difference in substitute appearances, the players in the starting eleven have to work just that much harder to retaining their positions in the lineup.
“I always try and put out what I think is the best team to win a football game. It is all about trying to win football games,” Nelsen added. “It is not just about one training session or one incident or anything like that. It’s about putting your head down and working every single day and not letting your standards drop, because you can’t now. If you let your standards drop, there are a lot of players ready to take your place.”
“Sometimes when you get that opportunity – and I have been in the position myself – whether it is an injury, a substitution, a sending off or just something else, a player has to be ready to take it,” Nelsen said.