Mason Toye had a greeting in French for the assembled press then talked of his need to get more regular playing time and how he’s tried to model his game on his new Montreal Impact head coach.
Despite taking things calmly in his stride, the 21-year-old couldn’t quite disguise an excited tone during the short session. That’s what a new club, a new start and the prospect of many more minutes playing time can do for a young player. Oh! and coming to play for a role model helps too!
“I had heard there were teams that had approached Minnesota about the possibility of getting me. I got wind of that through my agent and just said basically, if there’s a team that comes in and you guys [Minnesota] were willing to let me go, then I’d like to go and get a change of scenery.
I don’t think that my frustration was the reason why I really wanted to push for a trade, I think it was just the change of scenery and obviously getting some more opportunities in terms of consistent playing time.”
Toye by his own admission, is a huge admirer of his new coach Thierry Henry, citing the Frenchman as a player he looked up to while growing up in New Jersey, where he got to see the current Impact boss play regularly at Red Bull Arena.
“Obviously I am super-excited [playing for Thierry Henry] and very grateful for the opportunity. I’m just coming in to be a sponge, taking in all the information I can get. Taking all the positive reinforcements and criticism that I’ll get from him and all the coaching staff.
“It’s a really great opportunity for me to improve and take my game to the next level.”
The Impact using Red Bull Arena temporarily for home games also comes as a boost for the youngster, who’s happy to be going back there to play in a stadium where he attended so many games as a spectator.
“When I heard I got traded I hadn’t realized that Montreal was based out of New Jersey while they’re here in the States. So when I heard, I thought, wow! This is insane. I get to go home to my home state playing in the stadium I grew up watching games in, and being close to my family. Mind-boggling that I am able to do this.”
As alluded to by his former coach Adrian Heath, Toye like most young professional players harbours aspirations to one day play in Europe at the highest-level and is encouraged by the progess of players like Reyna, Pulisic, McKennie and Richard at some of Europe’s top clubs.
Although excited by what those players have achieved, Toye remains level-headed regards his own prospects. “I’m not really too worried about being part of the golden generation, I’m just worried about doing my job working hard, and being better than the day before.
“And if I can do that I feel like at some point I can probably get to Europe and hopefully be part of the senior national team, but right now I’m only worried about getting better each day.”
Back in July last year Toye, then 20, made his first start of the season for Minnesota against the Impact at Stade Saputo. It was an evening that represented a breakthrough for the young striker, claiming two goals, and an occasion that instilled in him much confidence and belief.
“It was a really exciting moment for me, getting my first brace in the league and I felt like I could really establish myself. And I’d shown I could score goals. I felt like then I can really push on now and get going. Yeah, a really exciting moment for me and my family and an awesome evening for me, personally.”
Perhaps the hallowed turf is a spiritual home of sorts for the young Jersey boy.
Now that he’s back here on friendly terms, Impact fans will be hoping Mason can sustain his excellent goalscoring record at the Montreal venue and chip in with a few road goals into the bargain...