TORONTO – As the eighth-most capped player in the history of the Dutch national team with 84 appearances, Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter knows exactly what an international call-up means to a player.
So when promising left back Ashtone Morgan made the list of players assembled by Canadian national team coach Stephen Hart for World Cup qualifiers at St. Lucia on Friday and against Puerto Rico at BMO Field on Oct. 11, Winter could only praise the call-up.
“I think that he's a very good choice from the head coach of Canada,” Winter said. “He’s a good kid, he's always open, he wants to learn.”
For Morgan, the call to join the national team will be an invaluable opportunity to soak up as much as he can from his compatriots.
“I just want to get as much experience as I can,” he said prior to departing to join the Canucks. “[To] get used to the guys on the team and just take what I can from the camp and just to try to get better.”
The 20-year-old Morgan, a native of Toronto, has been making an increasingly strong impression with his recent play in both MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League. Whether the graduate of the Toronto FC Academy gets any playing time or not, Winter says the call-up will be a giant step in Morgan's development as a player.
“Maybe he‘s going to make minutes, maybe not,” Winter said after Morgan had played well in a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. “But the whole experience to be there, to be one of the 20 players who are to play for Canada, I think, for his development it’s very good because in the national team, you have very good players. He can speak to [them] and they can help him. I think it’s good for a young guy like him. And hopefully he’ll get also some minutes.”
While Toronto FC are in the midst of a two-week break from games and won’t play until Oct. 15 at Philadelphia, Morgan and midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield, both of whom have had previous national-team service, left Sunday to join the Canadian side.
“At the end of the season, a lot of things have been happening for me,” Morgan said. “I've been seeing a lot of playing time. This is just like a cherry on top. It’s really good.”