TORONTO – Justin Morrow, one of the longest serving members of the club, ensured that he will be prowling the touch-lines at BMO Field for years to come, as it was announced on Wednesday that he was signed to a multi-year contract extension.
“It feels great,” said Morrow on Thursday. “I'm happy to be with this club. We've done good things. It's been a big project and we've been successful. I'm looking to continue our success.”
Morrow joined Toronto FC at the conclusion of the 2013 season, coming to town via trade with the San Jose Earthquakes in December with allocation money heading in the other direction.
Since suiting up in red for the 2014 season, Morrow has been a stalwart on the left-side of the defense, adding evermore to his game with each passing year.
Over the four seasons, Morrow has steadily increased his offensive output, flourishing as an attack-minded wing-back under Greg Vanney. The 2017 saw Morrow tally a career-best eight goals, while remaining steady in his defensive responsibilities. His solid all-around play helped Toronto to a historic, treble-winning campaign and one of the best defensive records in the league, earning himself a nomination for Defender of the Year and a spot in the MLS Best XI, almost unheard of for an outside back, in the process.
Morrow joined the TFC century club early in 2017, reaching 122 league appearances by season's end, placing him second on the all-time list for the club behind only Jonathan Osorio.
The four years have seen quite the journey.
“It's been big change since I've been here,” assessed Morrow. “The most important thing is that year after year we get better; not just on the field. The club finds different ways to push the envelope in the league. Look at the signings, that's a big show of how successful this team has been at changing things in the league, how determined [we] are to continue that success.”
Future settled, the 30-year old Morrow can focus on what he does best.
“It's great,” said Vanney of Morrow's re-signing. “He had a fantastic season; he's earned it. Every year he continues to improve and produce. He's become a vital part of our team. It's good to have him solidified, not worry about contract stuff, just look towards his daily work and continue doing what he does for us.”
Morrow added: “For a player, it's piece of mind to have the contract done, to know that the club is behind you, supporting you, and you don't have to worry about your future. Even better when you're at a great club like this.”
“I'm very proud of my performance here over the past four years,” said Morrow. “The most important thing is I've gotten better every year. At my age, that's not always the case. I'm getting older now, but I'm still looking for ways to grow.”
That yearning to improve is a lesson for all.
“I take lessons from my teammates; that's one of the reasons I chose to stay here,” continued Morrow. “Look at our signings. It starts with guys like Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Seba [Giovinco], then you add Victor [Vazquez] and guys like Ager [Aketxe] and Greg van der Wiel. There is so much to learn from these guys.”
“I take that upon myself everyday, to learn something and incorporate new things into my game,” said Morrow. “Over the past two years, I've been able to be successful attacking wise, but it's little nuances on the ball, keeping the ball, playing simple and playing complicated. All these things I've learned from teammates. It's been very valuable.”