TORONTO — The current Major League Soccer season isn’t over, but that hasn’t stopped Toronto FC from looking ahead and planning for its long-term future.
Earlier this week, TFC announced it had signed midfielder Marky Delgado to a multi-year contract extension. In doing so the club locked up a promising young player who it feels has become a key member of the team over the course of his two years in Toronto.
Since being acquired by the Reds in the 2014 MLS Dispersal Draft of former Chivas USA players, Delgado has played in 48 MLS games, with five goals and five assists. He’s started 23 league matches this year, the sixth most on the team, and with nearly 100 MLS appearances in total under his belt over the past five years, Delgado is already a league veteran.
Delgado has been a jack-of-all-trades at times for TFC, playing not only as an attacker but also as holding midfielder, as well as filling in at the fullback position. It’s his versatility, and what the club feels have been his consistent performances, that earned him a new deal.
And then there’s his age. At only 21 years old, the California native’s best days are still to come, according to TFC, and that’s why coach Greg Vanney stated “it was one of our missions to get him re-signed.”
“I think we sometimes we forget that [he’s young] because it seems like he’s been around for a little while. He’s been a pro since he was 16. His best years are still very much in front of him and we wanted to make sure that he stays with us, and that we can help him get to his top form and make use of his best years that are out in front of him,” Vanney said.
More and more, soccer players have to be able to play in a variety of positions. In a league such as MLS, where there is a salary cap, it’s even more important. Delgado can do that, and when you combine that factor with his other skills, re-signing him seems a smart piece of business by TFC.
“He’s proven to be a viable asset in this league. He’s a very good midfielder in terms of his ability to cover ground and run. He’s comfortable with the ball. He can play on the move; he doesn’t have to be standing and passing–he can play on the run,” Vanney said.
TFC’s coach has a long history with Delgado. Vanney was the one who signed Delgado as a homegrown player when he served as technical director of Chivas USA’s youth academy. Vanney jumped at the chance to select Delgado when it was time for TFC to select in the dispersal draft. Thus far, Delgado has proven to be a steal for the Reds.
“He’s very versatile. He has an incredible engine,” stated Vanney. “He has many, many, many of his best years in front of him. He’ll keep maturing as a player, and I’d prefer that to be with us than anyone else.”
Vanney has known Delgado since he was 15, and maybe that’s why a father-son type relationship has ensued between the two–TFC’s coach has had to reassure the young Delgado at different junctures of the campaign when he wasn’t getting playing time.
“For me right now being young, not always get to start and little things like that get under your skin. It really gets to you mentally, and that can bring you down as a young player. He’s been there for me. I’ve had times throughout the season [when] I’ve felt like that and he’s took me to the side and had a deep conversation with me,” Delgado admitted.
It’s not only Vanney who has helped Delgado–he also credits teammates Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco as crucial in his development as a player since coming to Toronto.
“I really feel that I’ve improved in a lot of ways being around them,” Delgado stated.
Check back with Sportsnet.ca on Saturday for my preview of Toronto FC’s regular-season finale. The Reds host the Chicago Fire on Sunday evening at BMO Field.