Toronto - The opening months of 2013 have been a period of adjustment for Toronto FC midfielder Jeremy Hall in more ways than one.
While all of the returning TFC players from last season have had to adapt to a new Head Coach in Ryan Nelsen and a fresh organizational culture under Nelsen and President and General Manager Kevin Payne, Hall has also had to adapt to a new position on the pitch.
After a season in which played pretty much exclusively at right back, the 24 year old Tampa, Florida native has excelled in the Reds starting eleven as a central defensive midfielder through three matches in the current campaign.
WATCH: Jeremy Hall following team training
It has been a move that Hall is a relishing and one that has required a certain amount of adaptation.
“It’s definitely different movement-wise. You have to make sure that you are communicating and putting guys into position and whatnot,” Hall told MLSSoccer.com. “It’s something that I have done since the beginning of preseason. I am continuing to get comfortable in the position. I like it in there.”
According to the TFC gaffer, Nelsen pretty much immediately envisioned Hall in a central midfield role not long after he began working with his new squad in the preseason. “He fit the bill in what we look for in a central midfielder. He has done fantastically well since the start of preseason. As soon as we went in (to preseason), we thought he would be fantastic for that position – his skillset, his mental attributes and how he reads the game. He just fit the bill,” Nelsen recently told MLSsoccer.com from the team’s training facility in Toronto.
“He’s getting better and better. Unfortunately, I had to take him out in Montreal just because of the score line and the fact we had to push the game a bit. It was no fault of his. He was playing really well. I thought he was fantastic in Vancouver,” Nelsen added. “What we ask from Jeremy and what we see are things that most fans and the media won’t see. We are really happy with what he is accomplishing on the field. The sign of a good player is sometimes that he doesn’t get noticed. He just cleans up and does all the dirty work and sets a really good tempo.”
Thus far, Hall has partnered up with veteran midfielder Terry Dunfield in the middle of the pitch for Toronto and the two players have quickly shown that they complement each other quite well.
“He is a very competitive person. You know what you are going to get from Terry. He works hard for ninety minutes until the final whistle is blown,” Hall said. “He is a very experienced player and he played in a lot of big games in England. Playing alongside someone like that is very good for me.”
“I think from day one in preseason Jeremy Hall has come back hungry,” Dunfield added. “He wants to be a big part of Toronto FC. He is getting his just rewards right now.”
In addition to benefiting from playing alongside a veteran central midfielder, Hall has also been buoyed by the opportunity to develop in a new defensively focused midfield role under the guidance of a coach who was a world class defender in his own right.
“(Ryan) is a great coach. Since day one he has really worked to instill that we are a hardworking team and a blue collar team. He wants us to be very tough to beat and very organized defensively. We are getting better each game, but compared to last year, you can already tell that we are a lot more organized and that we know what we want to do as a team,” Hall said. “He is definitely a great coach and I’m just look forward to us continuing to grow as the season goes along.”
While the right back position is in his rear view mirror at the moment, the former United States U17 International believes that he gained plenty from a solid year playing in a wide defensive spot.
“It’s definitely helped my game. I played midfield growing up, so it helped me to see the other side of the ball,” Hall said. “Getting stuck into the tackles and stuff like that, I think it has made me a better all-around player. Playing in the back definitely helped my game.”