Is there anything that Toronto FC’s
defender midfielder winger absolute baller Richie Laryea can’t do? Making his return to the lineup after a three-game absence due to a high-ankle sprain, the 25-year-old Canadian was asked to operate in a new role: on the left-hand side, forming an interesting partnership with veteran left-back Justin Morrow.
“The intent of using him tonight was a little bit like a joker,” explained head coach Greg Vanney after the match. “He was kind of our winger. The way they play is they like to get their right-back out into the attack a lot, so we wanted to put Richie (Laryea) in that left midfield position where in transition you could get out and go and be in one-on-one situations, ideally against the centre-back, when they rotate into their three.”
The plan worked to perfection as Laryea looked like his fellow countryman Alphonso Davies getting up and down the left-hand wing, highlighted of course by his run to set up the Reds’ opening goal.
Laryea was actually robbed of an assist on the play (because the ball took a deflection on the cross), but on paper, the versatile footballer is having (another) breakout season. After cementing his spot in the Reds’ lineup a year ago, the Toronto native already has three goals and one assist in nine games this season despite only going the full 90 minutes on one occasion. Like in Wednesday’s match, he was robbed of another clear-cut assist earlier in the season, on Achara’s game-winner all the way back on Mar. 7 at BMO Field.
Left, right, back, forward, in the middle, it doesn’t matter where you play the young Canadian. He has the poise to play as your last line of defence and the swagger to make a difference up top. Undoubtedly, Richie has become a must-start for Vanney moving forward.