Former San Jose fullback Justin Morrow looks forward to new start at Toronto FC
Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 02:15 pm
Like many at Toronto FC, Justin Morrow is looking forward not backwards.
While the view in TFC's rear mirror is littered with losses, Morrow sees a positive new beginning ahead of him in a Toronto shirt after four seasons in San Jose.
Morrow started 33 games in 2012 for the Earthquakes, a number that dropped to 21 last season as the acquisition of English veteran Jordan Stewart cut into his playing time.
"A lot of things happened last year, on a team level, on a personal level," Morrow said in an interview. "But what happened last year is in the past. I'm ready to get into Toronto and make an impact. I'm really excited about the (Toronto) move. What happened last year, I'm really not looking back at it. I'll learn from it but I'm moving forward."
Asked if he got a fair shake last year, Morrow politely shut that topic of conversation down.
The Earthquakes fired manager Frank Yallop in June after the Earthquakes stumbled to a 3-6-6 start. Fellow Canadian Mark Watson was promoted from assistant coach to take over. Stewart signed in July when the Quakes defence had allowed 32 goals in 20 games.
Toronto acquired Morrow from San Jose in mid-December for allocation money, with manager Ryan Nelsen delighted to get the 26-year-old Cleveland native.
The signings of England striker Jermain Defoe, U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley, and Braziilian forward Gilberto may have garnered most of the recent headlines but Nelsen says the additions of Morrow, Canadian veteran Dwayne De Rosario and Brazilian Jackson are key to the Toronto reboot.
Asked about Morrow, Nelsen launched into a shopping list of positives.
"U.S. international, MLS all-star, a really good (salary) number, a great guy," he said. "His athleticism. I really like athletic fullbacks. He can play a number of positions as well, he can play centre back, he can play left midfield. There's so much to like about Justin, especially his character. And he's hungry and he wants to win."
Morrow, an all-star in 2012, calls himself an attacking fullback with pace and grit who likes to get involved in the offence.
Understandably, Morrow welcomes the high-profile Toronto additions.
"It just shows the club's commitment to the future and that they want to be successful, which is a very important thing," he said. "When you're a football player you just want to be a part of a winning team, you want to be part of an organization that's trying to win.
"Toronto FC's definitely showing that right now, so I'm incredibly excited to be part of it all."
With 71 regular-season appearances in MLS, Morrow also brings experience to Toronto. Only De Rosario (324), Jackson (91) and Jeremy Hall (112) have more on the Toronto roster.
Ashtone Morgan, the 22-year-old Canadian international who will be Morrow's champion at left back, has made 66 appearances. Toronto may also have a new starter in right fullback in English newcomer Bradley Orr.
Morrow, whose 2013 salary was listed at US$139,560 by the MLS Players Union, has won one cap for the U.S., in a friendly 0-0 tie with Canada in January 2013. Morrow was also an unused substitute in World Cup qualifying matches against Costa Rica and Mexico last March.
He was selected in the second round (28th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
The five-foot-nine 165-pounder played collegiate soccer at Notre Dame, where he appeared in 89 games in four seasons mostly in left midfield. The Fighting Irish are coached by Bobby Clark, who coached Nelsen when he attended Stanford.
In San Jose, Morrow was involved with reading programs for kids at the local library. His wife Jimena is an accountant.