TORONTO—Marky Delgado is not going to displace Michael Bradley in Toronto FC’s starting line-up.
But the youngster has acquitted himself quite well for the Reds while Bradley has been away on Gold Cup duty with the U.S. national team, and he’s made a strong case that he deserves more playing time going forward.
Delgado, a 20-year-old native of California, has scored in each of the Reds’ last two MLS outings, and has started five straight matches—this after he was completely unused by coach Greg Vanney through the Reds’ first 13 regular season games.
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What’s more, the soft-spoken Delgado has shown off his versatility—two weeks ago in New York (a goal and assist) he slotted in as a right midfielder, and in last weekend’s win over Philadelphia (a goal) he filled in for Bradley at the tip of TFC’s midfield diamond.
“It was a little bit different,” Delgado said of playing a more advanced midfield role.
“You’re more of an attacker and at the same you want to defend, but you don’t drop as deep as you would as a holding midfielder or a No. 8,” Delgado said.
Delgado handled the assignment with aplomb, and his recent efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“He did a great job last week in New York of helping us defensively, but still having the energy and the speed to get forward into good spots. He did that last week when he scored the goal and today, he has such a big engine to help us defend a little bit deeper, but also to get out and help Jozy (Altidore) and Sebastian (Giovinco) in transition,” Vanney raved after the Philly game.
Delgado’s ascent couldn’t have come at a better time, as his strong play has minimized the absence of Bradley. TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko recently stated that MLS teams often “have to be smarter (and) more creative” because they can’t always go out and buy depth players in a salary cap league—sometimes you need unused assets to step up their game.
Delgado has done that and he’s proven to be a real gem for TFC.
Despite his age, Delgado has a wealth of MLS experience. In 2014, he appeared in 20 games, scoring two goals and adding an assist. In total, he played in 37 MLS games (25 as a starter) for Chivas before joining Toronto this off-season.
Delgado credits his time at Chivas as one of the reasons why he’s currently enjoying some success in Toronto.
“It helped me a lot. I felt at the time that I deserved it because every day I came in and worked (hard). I was one of the top hardest workers there and I felt that I deserved the opportunity. The opportunity was given to me and I took my chance,” Delgado stated.
It’s also helped that he’s also playing alongside a star the calibre of Giovinco.
“He’s just an unreal player, everyone knows that … he’ll just pull off something that you’ve never seen before,” Delgado offered. “On my view of things, playing next to him it’s very easy. He’s a very simple payer and it’s easy to see what he’s going to do. You just run of (what he does).”
Last November, Chivas USA players were made available for selection in a dispersal draft after MLS decided to lose the L.A.-based franchise.
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy went first overall, selected by FC Dallas. Toronto scooped up Delgado with the 14th pick, a move that many MLS pundits called the steal of the dispersal draft.
Vanney was the one who signed Delgado as a home-grown player when the TFC coach served as technical director of Chivas USA’s youth academy. He jumped at the chance to select Delgado when it was time for TFC to pick in the dispersal draft.
“I’ve known him since the [Chivas] academy, for a number of years. He’s always had the capacity to do an incredible amount of work on the field. He’s a technical player; he’s composed, I think, beyond his years, in terms of around pressure. He has very good technique. I honestly don’t know how he dropped to the position he did where we were able to take him,” Vanney said.