Eckersley Not Naïve About MLS

Toronto FC right fullback Richard Eckersley took part in a phone-in interview on Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 Thursday night. During The Soccer Show program hosted by Nigel Reed and Bob Iarusci, Eckersley was asked about the transition from England to North America.

“From what I’ve seen so far, it’s more physical, if not the same as the (Football League) Championship in England.”

“MLS is not televised over in England. People are quite naïve, but when the (English) teams come over in preseason and (MLS) teams give a good account of themselves, that’s when people realize the quality.”

Iarusci asked Eckersley about the connection to Toronto that brought him here, Toronto's director of player development Paul Mariner, who was the English defender’s coach at Plymouth Argyle.

“Paul Mariner kept track of me this season. The reason I made the decision (to travel) was that I missed a lot of football. My agent contacted Paul and he said ‘bring him over immediately’ and I came.”

In the 12 minute interview, Reed tried to find out if Eckersley, a former Manchester United youth player now on-loan from Burnley, had long term plans to stay in Toronto.

“To be honest, when I came over I just thought about taking it game by game. I was frustrated when I moved from Manchester United. Obviously, I just like to play football and if it comes to that (a long term deal), it would be brilliant, but I’m taking it game by game.”

Eckersley praised what he has seen at BMO Field since his arrival, saying “Toronto has a very professional setup behind the scenes. Back in England, a lot of the clubs don’t have facilities as good as what I’ve seen immediately.”

The defender’s absence from the lineup in Seattle when the Reds suffered a 3-0 drubbing to the Sounders puzzled some fans, but Eckersley was thoughtful about the situation.

“I think the coach, Aron Winter, is trying to ease me into it. He is trying to build me up.”

Being Salford-born, Eckersley had to answer a mandatory question about the United-Chelsea clash this weekend that could decide the Premiership.

“It’s a massive game, they (United) need to win it.”

Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei will appear on TSN Radio, Friday at 5:15 p.m.

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