It's going to be a long week for TFC II, as they play three games in the span of seven days. Two against newly expanded sides and one versus the first place Rochester Rhinos, who have been the best defensive team in the USL so far. TFC II have been able to start games to their pace and control it early on. It will be very important to continue that this Saturday if they want to come out on top. Allowing a team like the Rhinos to pounce on mistakes will hurt them and could cause them to go down early.
Earlier this week, Toronto FC called keeper Quillan Roberts, midfielder and TFC II captain Chris Mannella, forward Jordan Hamilton, and midfielder Jay Chapman to accompany them in their Voyageurs Cup journey in Montreal. They could be made available on Saturday, but head coach Jason Bent said that it all depends on how much their used in Montreal.
TFC calling up four TFC II players to join the squad when they face the Montreal Impact on Wednesday
"Its always valuable if there called upon." said Jason Bent when asked if it's good for these four players to make the trip to Montreal. "I'm sure they'll be ready to take their chance, but at the same time they have to bide their time and its a huge learning experience just being up there and being in that first team environment. They'll take positives from it, regardless if they play or not"
Depending on how many minutes they play and if they feel fit for the upcoming game on Saturday, Bent mentioned that they could all play in Rochester."All being well, providing their fit and they'll be available."
Facing a very strong defensive side in the Rochester Rhinos
After a very tough loss in Pittsburgh, which feels like ages ago, Jason Bent said that,"We'll just continue to look at our selves. We've analysed them and we know their strengths and weaknesses." Facing another veteran side and a first place one as well, a taunting task is ahead for the young TFC II side.
Which players should the young Reds be wary of in Rochester?, "Number three [Alex] Dixon up front, who went off injured, so he might come back into the fold. Christian Volesky scored a couple goals recently. Remember seeing him down at the Big East combine in December, so some of our players will know of him, and their back four is pretty big. In terms of their left back and two centre backs are six foot two/ six foot three plus. It's a big side, but we want to focus on us and what we want to do." Said Bent, who mentions that a big, physical Rhinos side could be up against his TFC II side.
"With the ball, our sort of same playing style, trying to dictate the game to them and create chances and hopefully score some goals." added the TFC II head coach about what kind of playing style he will deploy on Saturday.
With three games in the span of a week, TFC II will need to have a mixture of players available to them to make sure each player gets playing time, and can be fit if the club needs him. Could this mean that the newly loaned in Ben Spencer and Emeka Ononye will make an appearance? "We don''t expect Spencer to be involved, he's just working his way back." said Jason Bent. "Today [Wednesday] will be his first day joining into some limited training, trying to build him up since he's been out for quite some time. Regard to Emmy [Emeka], were just taking a look at him this week, but he his available for selection."
So Ben Spencer will not be making an appearance in Rochester, but maybe the tall and physical centre back Ononye could make his first professional appearance.
With such a big work load on these young players coming up, what has head coach Jason Bent done to make his players stay fit after a bye week but also not make them too worn out? "We've trained quite hard last week and first several days of this week have been quite intense. We'll sort of tone it down now between now and Saturday and then after Saturday it's all about rest and recovery." mentioned Bent. "So light training, look at some tactical things, video sessions to take positives out of things we can improve on as we move forward to the span of games." added Bent.
"For sure the entire squad will be used, in order to try and make sure we have fresh guys on the pitch at all times."
Chatting with Jason Bent
TFC II has made two signings so far this season, bringing in Spencer and Ononye. "It's always a collaborative conversation with the first team staff and as well as our USL staff and just trying to make sure certain players are getting opportunities to get minutes. To make sure guys are getting minutes and trying to improve." mentioned Bent about whether he and his staff have a say on who should be loaned into the squad.
Last game in Pittsburgh, TFC II entered the second half down a man and just conceded a tieing goal. All they could hope for was a Riverhounds mistake and to take advantage with a nicely planned counter attack. When asked if he prefers to use the counter attack when his side is down, Bent mentioned that, "We want to be a possession oriented team. Obviously the game against Pittsburgh we went down a man, so focus had to change by the nature of the game, so we reverted to two backs to four and a striker up on the top, so we picked and chose our moments and counter and get forward. Different philosophies will be dictated based on certain circumstances in the game."
Chatting with Raheem Edwards
"So far we started kind of slow, but were looking to gain our steps and get our stride, get a couple of results coming up for coming back home." mentioned full back Raheem Edwards when asked what he thinks about the season so far.
Starting two games and playing a total of 250 minutes, Edwards has yet to score a goal. "I'm confident in my skills and my abilities, so that goal will come eventually, whether it comes next game or the next couple of games. I'll find the goal, there's no doubt about that." said Edwards, who does have an assist to his name.
"The transitions been well from Sheridan to TFC. Just looking forward to getting more minutes and playing." added Edwards about making the transition from College soccer to professional.
How important will it be to start the game off in control and not giving the Rhinos any opportunities on goal? "We just have to be confident going out. A good first half will do us some justice and continue play our game how Jason told us to." mentioned the Canadian full back.
Already having two bye weeks in the season this early on could be both good and bad for a team. What has Edwards and his teammates done to make the most out of their bye week? "Keep our legs fresh, training session, taking it serious. Doing all the little things like recovering and everything, we take it very serious here." said Edwards. "Keeping our bodies fresh and our mentality fresh as well lead us fine for the three games."
Newly signed Emeka Ononye
"I actually just graduated on Saturday, so I just got integrated with the team on Monday so it's been great two days and I'm looking forward to today." said Emeka Ononye about how he feels about signing for TFC II and how the past week has been like.
What kind of player can TFC II fans expect out of Ononye? "Obviously from my size, I'm pretty physical. I like passing and keeping it simple." said Ononye, whose six foot three frame can add some much needed strength and physicality. "I use to play centre mid and then I moved back to centre back after my sophomore year, so I've been playing centre back competitively at a high level for about two and a half years now. I got to play with Stuart Neely [TFC Academy coach] in the summer as a centre back and that really helped me further my career." added Ononye whose versatility could be an added bonus to use in situations.
"Honestly just playing my role and being a contributor. Really helping the defence getting clean sheets, lowering the goals against average and just being a part of this team." said the tall centre back about what kind of role could he bring into the club.
Ononye played for K-W United last year in the USL PDL (Player Development League). "Playing PDL last summer, I feel like it's going to be around the same level. A lot of my friends that I played with got signed and I talked to them about the level and they say it's really competitive." mentioned Ononye about what to expect in the USL. "I'm excited and ready to get started."
Talking with Anthony Osorio
"It's been a great experience. J.B [Jason Bent] has been really good. Were learning a lot from his past professional experience. It's an honour to play for the first USL Toronto team." said the younger Osorio, whose been called up from the Academy and getting a chance to play professional.
Facing a veteran side like the Rhinos can be tough for such a young player like Osorio. "Rochester is an experienced squad in the USL, we know it's going to be another tough match. Their first in the league right now, so were just going to go out and play our game and give it to them." said Osorio who just wants to play the game the way they practiced and hoping the result will come.
"My brother is always helping me with my game. Teaching me, always watching my games. What I do wrong he corrects, so it's very motivational for the both us. Being on the first team, my goal is to be on the same pitch with him." said the younger brother of Jonathan Osorio about one day playing with his older sibling.
One day he could be part of the first team. What kind of player is he? "As a winger and wing back, I bring a lot of runs down the line going forward. So a lot of crosses is all part of my game, my strength." said Osorio about what he can bring to a team who likes to cross the ball in.