Toronto FC are a loose group growing in confidence, according TFC director of player personnel Paul Mariner.
Mariner spoke to MLSsoccer.com from Antalya, Turkey, where the club had just completed its fourth day of preseason training. According to the former long-time New England Revolution assistant, the players are quickly adapting to the new system head coach Aron Winter is trying to implement.
“North American players are extremely wide open to change,” Mariner said. “The players have been absolutely superb and are eager to learn and impress.”
Just days after landing in Turkey and still slightly affected by the seven-hour time difference, the Reds impressed in their first preseason game against Partizan Belgrade.
[inline_node:327686]In spite of the Serbian side being four weeks into its mid-winter training camp, TFC managed a 1-1 draw, with defender Nana Attakora scoring for the Reds. The result might have been even better had Dwayne De Rosario converted a first-half penalty kick.
Mariner was more than pleased by the result.
“Whenever you play against storied opposition, your competitive juices start to flow and the guys want to impress and do well,” he said. “A result like that gives the guys a burst of confidence.”
Toronto played a split side during the game and Mariner said there was no discernible difference between the two teams.
“It was a difficult task," he said. "[The players] were extremely responsive to the change in system that we are trying to implement."
Although he would not speak about any specific trialists, Mariner said every player in camp has performed well thus far. He indicated that the Reds would make a decision on the European players they brought in at the end of camp in Turkey.