Not all is well surrounding Toronto FC lately. The Reds have been blanked in three straight league matches and find themselves in the Eastern Conference basement spot after 13 matches played. One positive from the season so far, though, has been the play of Canadian international Richie Laryea.
The defender earned his fourth MLS Team of the Matchday nod after a stellar showing against the New York Red Bulls at home on Wednesday night.
That inclusion is even more impressive given that, usually a high-flying right-back, Laryea was deployed at centre-half next to new signing Aiméi Mabika due to Toronto FC’s ever-growing injury list. When Mark-Anthony Kaye was ruled out of action late on gameday, Bob Bradley let Laryea know that he would be needed in the centre of defence. It was a position Laryea had never before played in, but as with most things so far this season, he made it look pretty easy.
“I’ve played with enough centre-backs to know the spaces that I like them to be in when I want to get the ball as a right-back,” Laryea said post-game.
“I had to pick up on it quickly or else I would’ve been fucked up there.”
The Toronto-born player kept a clean sheet in the goalless draw, picking up three interceptions and two tackles. He also won all 11 of his duels during his 90 minutes on the pitch.
Laryea has been one of the best fullbacks in MLS through the early part of the season and has been recognized as such by the league. Denis Bouanga, the current top scorer in MLS, is the only player who has more Team of the Matchday selections to his name with five.
TFC head coach Bob Bradley also sang Laryea’s praises after Wednesday’s draw, highlighting the 28-year-old as a player who does whatever it takes for the team.
“Richie’s been amazing lately,” Bradley exclaimed during the post-match press conference.
“You can put him anywhere on the field and Richie says ‘no problem’… What he’s done for the team in this last stretch of games has been incredible.”
With Laryea’s loan deal from Nottingham Forest ending on June 30, Bradley and TFC President Bill Manning will need to figure out how to keep one of the team’s most important players on this side of the Atlantic.
Bradley provided a ‘wait and see’ approach when discussing Laryea’s future with Toronto FC Insider Michael Singh.
TFC haven’t got much to celebrate right now, but striking a deal to keep Laryea at BMO Field would certainly be something to shout about.
For now, Bradley will have to focus on the task at hand, which is propelling TFC up the standings and back into playoff contention. The next challenge comes in the form of an away trip to Austin FC this Saturday.