New Toronto FC signing Darren O’Dea had his first full session at the Kia Training Ground on Wednesday and head coach Paul Mariner had one word to describe the Irishman’s outing.
Mariner was of course, joking. The coach could barely mask his enthusiasm for having an experienced, vocal centre back to lead the Toronto backline.
“Very good, very good,” Mariner said smiling. “As you can see, he’s a leader that we need. Soon as we blew the whistle you could hear his booming voice … it’s all about experience, you just can’t put experience into a player.”
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Video: Darren O'Dea following his first full training session.
O’Dea admits he is not a hundred percent match fit yet. The defender has been out of action since training with Ireland at the European Championship this summer.
“It’s good to get my first day out of the way,” O’Dea told Toronto FC TV on Wednesday. He is looking ahead to making his debut on Saturday in Columbus, saying he is “desperate to start playing” and hopes his adrenaline will make up for match fitness.
The new defender could go on Saturday, but will be away for Toronto’s midweek match against Portland at BMO Field on August 15 due to international duty.
O-Day v. O-dee
It was an ongoing debate in our comments section for a few days, but it has been confirmed by the Irishman himself, his name is pronounced “O-dee.”
While O’Dea is in Toronto to stay, he was joined at Downsview by trialist defenders Paul Robinson and Diego Alberto Cervantes Chavez. 33-year old Robinson is a left back of Watford and West Bromwich fame. Chavez, 27, is a lanky but composed centre back who has bounced around Mexico’s Primera Division on loan from Club America.
One forward on trial with Toronto is Bermuda international Antwan Russell. The 25-year old has two caps for his country.
Canada head coach Stephen Hart was present at TFC training on Wednesday. The national team boss had a chat with Mariner about Toronto players that may be called up for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers on September 7 versus Panama (in Toronto) and the return match four days later.