After a tough 2015 season, can Toronto FC centre back Nick Hagglund work his way back into the starting lineup?
When Nick Hagglund was drafted by Toronto FC in 2014 and appeared in 25 games as a rookie, many thought 2015 could either go one of two ways; he excels and doesn’t have a ‘sophomore slump’ or declines and suffers a forgettable season.
Hagglund unfortunately had a unforgettable season, and he will be the first one to say that. “The season didn’t go the way I wanted,” said Hagglund when asked by torontofc.ca about a campaign that saw him make 12 appearances and only start eight times.
While he didn’t make a huge difference like he did a season before, Hagglund cannot be totally blamed for his slump. He would miss four games with an appendectomy and failed to reach the status he set for himself in 2014. While Hagglund was still trying to overcome an injury, players like Josh Williams and Eriq Zavaleta stepped up and pushed Hagglund back. And when Ahmed Kantari came in, that just pushed him even farther down the pecking order.
Now with Kantari gone, comes in an MLS veteran in Drew Moor. Still, Hagglund may be low on the centre back totum pole, he still could play an important role. I for one thought Hagglund should be loaned out to TFC II so he can remain match fit and earn plenty of playing time. He would only spend one half with TFC II in August, along with keeper Chris Konopka.
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Having Hagglund on a team like TFC II will be beneficial for both him and the younger players. Hagglund can be a veteran presence that team needs. Having been through the draft process and seen substantial minutes as a player for the first team, he can make himself and the team better.
You may think Hagglund would be upset that he has other players ahead of him, but he is still hungry for minutes and knows that if you are just given the starting spot, you’ve become complacent.
"“If you come in and are given a spot you’re going to get complacent. When you come in every day and know you have to be sharp it makes a difference,” said Hagglund."
Hagglund will need to earn his minutes with a team that has depth at centre back. But if he stays focused and fit, he could more then likely make a difference for Toronto FC and help the club better their goals against from last season.