Toronto FC have an established record of bringing through their own players via their academy programs. One looking to eventually make it to the MLS first team is 17 year old Daniel Jodah. Despite an early play-off exit the attack minded youngster played a crucial role in the unbeaten regular season recorded by Toronto FC Academy Under 17’s. Looking ahead to next season Daniel took time out of preparation for the off season to talk about his TFCA career thus far and how much work he is dedicated to put in, in order to hopefully make the Toronto FC first team. www.soccernightexclusive.wordpress.com

First and foremost for all the readers and soccer fans who are unfamiliar with Daniel Jodah, how would you describe your playing style as well as your strengths?

I am definitely someone that tries to work hard each and every day. I don’t like to be too overconfident but having the belief in your ability is important. I tend to play with an edge because there has been many people who have doubted me during my development as a player. I would consider myself a hard worker both on and off the ball, and I love to attack people one on one and being a winger, it is key to have that ability in this position.

What age did you start and how did you get into soccer?

I started playing when I was about 3-4 years old. My parents signed me up and from there I just fell in love with the game.

Have you always wanted to become a soccer player?

I think when I was about 8 years old, I realized that this is what I wanted to do professionally one day!

During your early years and growing up stages as a soccer player who would you say has been your biggest inspiration and why?

Obviously watching soccer on the television inspires young teens like me to realize our biggest inspirations like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and other big players in the world. Although these people are great role models, I’d have to say both my parents have been the biggest inspirations and influences in my life. Both of them have inspired me to become not only a better footballer, but a better man and to prepare me for the real world and the future. My Dad is my biggest critic besides my coaches. He is at every game, and he’s always giving me feedback. Whenever I tell him about the big things that I achieved during the game like a goal, an assist or a cheeky move, he tells me it’s great and the he asks me about the missed pass, giving away the ball, the cross I didn’t get in. This has helped me to improve on my game and I owe everything to both my Mom and Dad.

You play for Toronto FC Academy Under 17’s in the Canadian Soccer League Second Division. How did it materialise you becoming a part of TFC ?

At first, I was with the Ontario Provincial program from the age of 14-16. As customary, Toronto FC Academy comes to play the U16 Provincial Team every year to take a look at players, and to see what players are ready for the next step. Last year, my team played against the u17 TFCAcademy and we happened to beat them by a good margin. That’s when a couple of us were scouted and taken for a trial to TFCAcademy. Ever since then, we have become an influential part of the team, and learned to play a different style of soccer which in fact is the best style: passing and moving.

How does it feel to belong to such a highly established organisation ?

It’s unbelievable to be honest. Before Toronto FC, I was at the provincial program with a couple of teammates I play with now and we were brought over to play for one of the biggest soccer academies in Canada. It’s big because most of us are closer to our dream to one day play soccer professionally for the first team. Toronto FC is a great club and a great organization that can helps you to get different opportunities whether it’s to be a professional or a university scholarship. To be a part of this club is important because we’re taught to play a great style of soccer and also realize that we are playing for Toronto FC, not for the name on the back of the shirt. We are treated like professionals every day and it’s important to in return, respect the rules of the club and of course perform on the pitch. That’s the important part.

Toronto FC Academy play their home games at the KIA Training Facility. What does it feel like to play and use such high class facilities ?

Being a part of the Academy and being able to train and play in this facility is actually a dream. Having the new facility is important because it shows that we are trying to put more effort into youth development and creating a strong foundation for the club. It’s amazing to be able to train on such high quality fields with the best players in the province and for some, the best players in the country. Having the opportunity to do that is something unbelievable. We’re treated like professionals which is a great feeling and in return for the coaches and staff, we have to perform on the pitch as well. It’s the life of being a professional footballer.

For the people who are unknown with the 2nd tier of CSL, how is the league structured, ranging from how many qualify for the play offs and ultimately how is championship claimed ?

Usually, there is a winner of the regular season and that this is the team that finishes first. There are 8 teams that qualify for the play-offs, the winners go into the semis and the winners of those games plays in the finals. Even though it’s considered a reserve league, it is still great competition just like the CSL 1st division.

The CSL is a league which is growing year on year. What is the standard of soccer like in both divisions, having played in both yourself ?

Having the experience of playing in both is pretty good because I know that it can improve my game when I play against older, bigger, stronger and quicker players. Personally, it can raise your game. The speed of game is a lot quicker in the 1st division than the 2nd division. The standards are always high for Toronto FC Academy. Even though the leagues are designed for us players to develop, it creates great competition for both teams in both leagues.

Who are the main teams in CSL ?

Every team is pretty good. If you’re having an off day in the league, you can be punished by any team. Every team has their own qualities. In the CSL 1st division, everyone can point out SC Toronto and Toronto Croatia because they are high quality teams with players that can change a match at any time. All teams in the CSL are good for different reasons so you cannot determine who the main teams are all the time.

During the regular season Toronto FC Under 17’s claimed unbeaten status with 13 wins, and 3 ties in their 16 games. What would you say was the main benefactor for the unbeaten season ?

It was a great season for us. The 3 games we tied we actually should have won but we were unlucky. We were a high intensity team. We wanted to do things faster, quicker and more aggressive than the other teams. Attacking wise, we worked on a lot of movements and keeping the ball was one of our main assets. Most games, we had more possession and in soccer the team that has the ball, is mainly in control. Our defensive game was organized energized and we were always concentrating. We were always determined to win the game in a footballing manner and that was the key to our success.

Along with the unbeaten run TFC U17 managed to score a total of 57 goals and conceding 9 in the process. Is that the way TFC like to play, continue to score as many goals as possible in games and not settling for a certain amount ?

I wouldn’t say our way of playing is to score as many goals as possible. We try to do things in the right manner and that is to play football. We aren’t a dirty team or an undisciplined team. We like to be organized both on and off the field and we are full of energy. When it comes to the games nothing changes to what we do during training. When it’s game time, it’s basically all business. We don’t fool around, we don’t dwell on mistakes. We are all about playing a “pass and move” style which creates a lot of chances for all of us. That’s why our team was doing really well. No one wanted to shine, everyone wanted to do the right things and make the right decisions for us to come out on top.

You scored six goals in 2012, From a personal perspective how would you describe your regular season in CSL ?

Personally, I thought my play was more consistent throughout this season and I had a lot more assists than goals this term which is also another characteristic. I could’ve had better games at times and finished more opportunities when I had them but sometimes soccer is a cruel sport. I don’t try to focus too much about goals and assists. For me it’s all about the team and doing my part for the team to be successful. Having the ability to play with quality players every day is amazing and in games when they have the ability to find you, its only right to finish the opportunities you get or help create one.

What targets did the club set out for the season ahead at the start of 2012 ?

At the beginning of the season, all the coaches set a standard that not only would we try to win the league, but to do it in a humble and footballing manner. We would work hard and try to play football .We also wanted to do well at the MLS Youth Cup.

The play-offs saw TFC U17 being drawn against the 8th placed side Mississauga Eagles, who in the regular season you beat 6-1 and 9-0. How did the team feel heading into the play-offs ?

Going into the play-offs, it didn’t matter who we were up against, we knew it’d be a tough game. When you beat a team this much, you can’t be too overconfident because anything can happen. When it comes to the play-offs, the regular season doesn’t mean anything. After a hard week of training, we felt ready and confident going into the match against Mississauga.

TFC U17 were surprisingly beaten by Mississauga Eagles in the play-offs first round, what did you feel went wrong in this particular game ?

It was definitely a heartbreaker and that is the cruel side of soccer. Sometimes you can dominate the match, have the wrong calls from the referees, missing countless chances, but at the end of the day, if you haven’t put the ball into the back of the net and the other team does, than all the statistics are excuses. It was a tough game. We had a number of chances and we were the better team, but give credit to Mississauga who finished their chances when we didn’t.

How does it feel to be unbeaten in the regular season and come the play-offs that run ends ?

It actually makes matters worse because we could see it in the coaches eyes after the game that out of everyone, he was disappointed the most. It’s upsetting because we hadn’t lost a game all season and then we lost in the most important game of our season which was so unfortunate.

Although there was play-off heartache do you still feel pleased with the regular season performance ?

For sure. I think at a team standpoint, we had an exceptional season, better than we thought. Obviously losing the play-offs is tough but being unbeaten in the regular season is a good accomplishment.

Who do you think will be the team to claim the title now ?

At this moment, it is tough to say, all the teams have good qualities and it’ll be up to the team who can perform the best.

What will the TFC U17 looking to do heading into 2013 ?

I don’t think we are looking to the future just yet. Since most of the players on my team are 17, most of us are looking to try and push up to Danny Dichio’s under-19 squad but it’s all up to the coaches’ opinion. We obviously have a winter break to get our heads straight and to rest our bodies for next season. But at this moment in time, no one knows what’s going to happen next.

Anthony Capotosto is the Head Coach of TFC U17, what would you say is his playing philosophy ?

“Caps” was the heart of the team. Ricky Titus (assistant coach), the physiotherapists and other coaches were all important to us during the season. Caps always wanted us to go out there, be organized and play with pride. He always focused on the little things because the little things can create a big picture and that’s what made him and the coaches so influential during the season.

What would you say are his personal attributes too ?

He is a great coach. He’s always on us because he knows what we’re all capable of. He has changed many players in the team, and has made them who they are today both on and off the field. He believes that all the little things on and off the field make a different and that’s key to helping us be total footballers.

During our previous conversations you said you have had the opportunity to train with a number of the first teamers at TFC, who exactly are those players ?

It was a privilege playing and training with Oscar Cordon, Keith Makubuya, Matt Stinson, and Junior Burgos

How did it feel for you to train with player who have MLS experience ?

It was great because you could see and imitate the attributes of a professional. They are all quality players because they have that experience when you play with them so for me it was a privilege to even walk on the same field as them.

Currently in the Toronto FC first team who do you look up to the most and why ?

Currently, it’s important to look at people who play your positions. I like watching Ashtone Morgan play because I’ve gained a lot of experience and tips from him when I first came to TFC and he showed me what it really means to play for the club. You need an edge, be willing to fight and put your body on the line to succeed. I also enjoyed Joao Plata because of his work rate and how he was an impact player. Another player I tend to watch is Quincy Amarikwa. His work rate and how he plays is important as well. Having that MLS Cup under his name is something he’ll never forget as well. Another player I like to watch is one of my friends that I went to school with and is on the u19’s and played against Liverpool was Josh Janniere. Because he plays my position, I tend to watch him more than the first team players because playing with him, you are able to imitate him and take advice from him because I see him almost every day.

Toronto FC are renowned for bringing through academy players into their first team, I guess this is one of your dreams is to make the first team ?

Obviously! For every one of us it is our dream to play for the first team.

Do you think Toronto FC can become MLS Champions sometime in the future ?

I think after this year, a lot of people will doubt us because of poor performances and unfortunate mistakes. So I think the first team is to create a great foundation and to have team that can compete in the league. I think it will take a little more time for Toronto FC to win an MLC Cup Championship. But once they start to string together good results and prove to people they are good enough to compete, then Toronto FC will be the team to beat and be a team that everyone hates to play against.

What does the year of 2013 hold for Daniel Jodah ?

Personally, I hope to move up to u19s, and even get a crack at reserve team action. That is definitely my goal. Another goal would be to get a spot in the u19 Canadian National Team and hopefully work my way from there and see what opportunities I can achieve for myself.

Where would you like to see your career in five years’ time ?

In five years, my dream is to play For Toronto FC and hopefully work my way into Europe one day. As hard as it sounds, I am determined to work extra hard to one day achieve this. The main goal is to play for Toronto FC and establish myself as a good player but I also dream to play in the Premier League one day.

What advice would you give to any children who are looking to follow in your footsteps into the world of soccer ?

For the youth, it’s important to keep working hard. Don’t ever give up and when someone tells you to quit or you can’t do it, then use that as determination to achieve your goals, become successful and one day achieve your dream of doing what you’ve always dreamed to do because anything is possible.

Best Game You’ve Played In

I’d say the game against DC United in the Seattle in the MLS Youth Cup because of 2 goals coming off the bench in the second half, or when I was called up for u15 Canadian National Team and had 2 assists to beat USA 3-1.

Best Goal Scored

It’s hard to pick the best goal, some goals were important for different reasons because of the team you were playing or what the goal meant. So to be honest, I really don’t know.

Best Player Played Against

Personally, it’s a really tough choice but I’d have to say Fraser Aird and Luca Gasparatto. Fraser, Luca and I always had personal battles in training before they went to Scotland. Whenever we played rep soccer and my team would play there’s and it was always a personal battle of whose team was better. Fraser is now playing for the U19 Scottish National team and Glasgow Rangers and Luca is in the same position with Canada.

Best Player Played Alongside

I would have to say is Ashtone Morgan because he inspired me and showed me what its like to play for TFC. He gives me advice when I need it and is always there to help. I guess I could say I have a good relationship with him.

Best Friend/s In Soccer

I seem to have a good relationship with everyone so I can’t pick out one person in particular because whenever we have problems on and off the field, we tell each other because we’ve known each other for a long time and it’s good to have that relationship. As a team, it’s a brotherhood and no one hates anyone.

Team Supported Growing Up

FC Barcelona, the best team in the world!.

Favourite Stadium

Lucky enough, I have been to Camp Nou and I’d have to say that is my favourite stadium.

Favourite Food

Pasta.

Favourite Drink

Mango Juice

Favourite Vacation Destination

Spain.

Favourite Film

Goal 1, 2 & 3.

Favourite TV Show

Premier Ship Goals or Oh My Gol!

Favourite Music

R&B, Rap, Pop.

Hobbies And Interests Outside Of Soccer

Listening to Music, spending time with family and friends.

What Would You Do If You Won $1million ?

Buy a Car, clothes, maybe a house.

Teammates – TFC Academy

Mark Wadid, Jordan Hamilton and Brandon Woodfull: Strikers

Derrick Sequeira, Manny Aparicio, Dylan Sacramento, Josh Penello (C), and Steven Piliodis: Midfielders

Nam Ngyuen, Alain Sargeant, Mark Serjant, Stephen Almeida, Kevon Black and Duran Lee: Defenders

Mark Rogo, Brad Cater: Keepers

Loudest

Me or Alain.

Quietest

Steven Piliodis.

Most Intelligent

Mark Wadid.

Least Intelligent

Stephen Almeida.

Best Trainer

Alain Sargeant.

Worse Trainer

Jordan Hamilton.

Biggest Moaner

No one.

Biggest Joker

Mark Wadid.

Most Skilful

Stephen Piliodis.

Worse Taste In Music

Mark Serjant.

Worse Dress Sense

Everyone dresses pretty well!

I would like to thank Daniel for his time and efforts during the interview process.

By Anthony Bedworth

@maplesoccer123

@soccernightexcl

Advertisements