TORONTO – It's at times like that that a club needs everybody to contribute.
In the midst of a hectic stretch of matches and suffering from the lingering effects of a busy start to the season, Toronto FC needs players to step up.
One of those rising to the occasion is Homegrown Jay Chapman, who combined with another, Jordan Hamilton, to score a lovely goal on the counter against the Philadelphia Union last Friday.
“It was great,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “Two guys who have shown a lot of promise. I keep pushing them to be consistent every time they get a chance.”
Hamilton, the forward, played creator, setting up Chapman, the midfielder, on a blistering move up field.
“Jordan had a great preseason and start to the year. I've built trust in Jordan, that's why I put him on in the final down in Guadalajara,” continued Vanney. “He picked up the ball on the run, on the turn, and made a great choice. He had two [options]... and it's not easy to look off Sebastian [Giovinco]. He chose Jay, who was making a great run.”
“Looking at Jay that is one of his strengths: his capacity to cover ground fast out of midfield and get moving forward. When he saw that play turn into a transition he took off and made a difference. Great finish,” added Vanney. “For our young guys to have these great moments will build their confidence to be able to step on the field and help the group.”
Vanney's outburst upon the fierce strike hitting the back of the net only emphasized his elation at his younger players continued development.
“I'm happy for Jay,” explained Vanney days later. “[He's] a guy we believe a lot in. It's a tough team to get into. The challenge is every time you get an opportunity, you have to make as much as you can out of [it] to get your next [one].”
“Confidence wise, when you're not playing all the time, minutes are up and down, performances aren't exactly where you want them to be, to have a moment like that feels good.,” continued Vanney. “And I can see, two days in, he's already carrying that confidence and energy into training sessions. We want that for these guys; Jay deserves it and he needs more of them.”
Having made his MLS season debut in the 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake at the end of March, Chapman has made three further starts, as well as coming on late against Philadelphia to score that beauty. Admittedly, two of them, against Colorado and Houston, were tough outings with attention focused on the Champions League.
“It was good,” said Chapman earlier this week. “The past couple games I'm beginning to get more playing time. When I got a couple of starts, we didn't get the results, but personally, I got some good minutes in. And when I got a chance [against Philadelphia], I thought I could come in and make impact, get a goal.”
“It was about time that I scored,” added Chapman. “I was happy to and help secure the three points.”
Forced to bide his time in a congested midfield where competition for minutes is fierce, Chapman has learned many a valuable lesson.
“It's respecting the process,” detailed Chapman. “This is my fourth year, I've learned a lot, gotten some quality experiences by training, learning from guys. It's a very tough team to get into, there are moments when you have to realize it's not about you, it's about the team. When team is doing well and you're not in, you have to be patient. When you do get your chance, you have to be ready, be mentally prepared.”
Chapman's progress and the subsequent earned faith from the coaching staff saw him come onto the biggest stage yet: the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final in Guadalajara against Chivas.
“In years past, I haven't been in those big games,” said Chapman. “Now, had a good preseason, a couple good runs... I'm showing more consistency.”
“Coming into the final was big for me, in terms of a milestone in my career,” continued Chapman. “When I came on I showed well; going forward that will help. The fact [the coaching staff] are giving me my opportunity and I've been able to take it is good. I look forward to playing a bigger role on the team throughout the season.”
“If you saw the [goal] highlight, they were very happy for me,” added Chapman. “I look forward to the games coming up; getting some more wins.”
Chapman was rewarded with a midweek start against Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday, and though the result was not the one desired, his energy did not go unnoticed.
“I liked his mobility, directness and runs to break the back-line,” said Vanney post-match. “Jay found some good moments to make runs through their lines, whether without the ball or with, where he accelerated through the spaces. He did a nice job; had some great recoveries defending as well.”
And with the New England Revolution on the horizon this Saturday, not to mention a busy stretch ahead over the next several weeks, Chapman and the likes of Hamilton, Liam Fraser, Ryan Telfer, Mariano Mino, and company will likely be called on repeatedly, asked to rise to the occasion.
Said Chapman: “With so many injuries, it's important that guys like myself, when we get the chance we're ready to contribute and start picking up points.”