Home Canadian Soccer Toronto FC locks up defender Doneil Henry

Toronto FC locks up defender Doneil Henry

Doneil Henry
The scene: Frisco, Tex. The time: Last October.

On an evening just a couple of weeks out of Halloween, Toronto FC recorded which, at the time, was the club’s biggest win in its history. The 3-0 shellacking of FC Dallas ensured that TFC would go on to the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League.

On that October evening, TFC fans feted Joao Plata, the diminutive rookie who set up the first goal and added two more. But, on that evening, we saw the emergence of a player whose long-term future may mean more to the club than any other Red who was on the field that night.

On that night, Doneil Henry was inserted as an emergency right back, and was asked to contend with Brek Shea’s runs down the left channel of FCD’s attack. Henry was very much TFC’s unsung hero on that night — and we can point to that evening as the moment when Henry transferred his status from “prospect” to “player.”

He was Canada’s best defender at this year’s CONCACAF Olympic tourney. He’s worked his way into TFC coach Paul Mariner’s starting XI. He got his first senior national call-up for last week’s friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.

Now, the Brampton teen has committed his long-term future to the Reds. On Tuesday, the team announced Henry has re-signed.

“This is another positive step for our football club, signing another promising young defender for the long term,” said Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations Paul Mariner in a release issued by the club. “Doneil possess a great amount of skill and the scary part is he is only 19 years old. He has proven to be an important part of our club and will continue to be for years to come.”

The move comes as TFC prepares to play Columbus on Wednesday, a makeup game for a match that was postponed so the Crew’s players and staff could attend a memorial for teammate Kirk Urso, who passed away earlier this month.

As well, TFC locked up fullback Ashtone Morgan, which also gives the team leverage if, down the road, the players would look to move on. MLS and TFC are better off if the players are locked down — and if they impress enough for European looks down the road, transfer fees would be in order. These moves are as much about the team protecting its assets as it is about developing these players as they move from being boys to being men.

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