USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
TORONTO – After appearing in 16 games for Toronto FC II’s inaugural season, midfielder Chris Manella is aiming to take on a greater leadership role as the side prepares for its second season in the USL.
With a young squad surrounding him, the 21-year-old Homegrown signing is looking to act as a mentor for the players moving up into the professional ranks for the first time, as TFC II looks to find greater consistency on the field in 2016.
“When I was coming up through the ranks I had guys that I relied on,” Manella told TorontoFC.ca’s Anthony Campos. “Steven Caldwell was a big one for me in my first preseason [with the first team] and experiencing that showed me how I should treat the younger guys and help them through this process.
“I want to be a leader and want to make sure we get the best out of the guys. Hopefully they can follow the same path as me [in signing with the first team] because it’s ultimately what we’re working towards and I’m here to help them as much as I can.”
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With almost all of TFC II’s players having made their professional debuts in 2015, things should go a little more smoothly this spring. The side is returning experience in the form of Manella, Skylar Thomas and Alex Bono, and players like Luca Uccello and Anthony Osorio could take a big step forward for the side.
All of which has made the preseason critical as TFC II prepares to face the New York Red Bulls II in its opening game of the season.
“Preseason is obviously important,” Manella said. “Not only do we get to bond with each other off the field but also we get to be with each other 24 hours a day learning the system of play going into the season.
“For the younger guys it’s a good transition from the Kia TFC Academy into the USL and the guys on the team that have USL experience can help them adapt to the level of play.”
After a tough inaugural season, Manella believes the club is better prepared for the competition it will face.“It was my first professional season so there was a lot to learn about the ins and outs of being a pro,” said Mannella. “I think we’re definitely more prepared coming into this season.”