That’s the mantra of TFC defender Darren O’Dea as he enters his first full MLS season.
TFC brought the 25-year-old Irishman to North America last August. While given the captain’s band after a season-ending hip injury to Torsten Frings, O’Dea endured a forgettable campaign as the club won just once, lost 10 and tied two more. Two of those defeats came in Champions League play against Santos Laguna.
Video: Darren O'Dea on Toronto FC TV.
O’Dea came to the team after being idle for two months. He arrived with sterling credentials having won two titles with Glasgow Celtic and helped in Ireland’s qualification for Euro 2012.
O’Dea says while deflating the club’s performance wasn’t altogether disheartening.
“It was a chance for me to see the league, the different teams, different players, see the club, see what it’s about. Now, coming over here for the start of the season I know exactly what I’m in for. There will be no distractions and that’s exactly the way I want it.”
What O’Dea took out of last season’s experience was the desire for a winner among Toronto football fans.
“What I learned that whetted my appetite was the hunger to have success. Toronto hasn’t been in the playoffs and when that happens it’s a chance to make history. With a new president (Kevin Payne) and a new manager (Ryan Nelsen) this regime will last. I know it’s something people have heard before but that is the one thing the club needs…stability.”
O’Dea has been impressed with the work of Nelsen, TFC’s newly minted manager who is freshly retired from his role as a defender with Queens Park Rangers.
“I’m sure I know more about Nellie than other players because I’m based in Britain,” said O’Dea.
“He’s known as a fantastic defender but anywhere he’s been he’s been a leader so I think managing is a natural transition for him. He knows the game inside out. It’s been very good first week of training.”
O’Dea said what made his rookie MLS season so difficult was the fact that he arrived out of match shape. Avoiding injury, he said, was important.
“I wanted to see the league. I wanted to play but I didn’t want to get injured and miss the pre-season. They sound like excuses which they absolutely are but I will be absolutely fit. With the manager we have now, the president, the pre-season program, there will be no excuses.”