Defenseman Darren Toby may be new to Utica but he is no stranger to the soccer world and hopes to bring with him the recipe for a championship team. Broadcaster Richard Shaw sat down with him this week and asked a few questions to help fans get to know the Trinidad and Tobago star.   

What were your first soccer experiences as a child and how did your development as a player begin?The first time I watched soccer I was a very young child. I immediately thought it was such a fun game, and I was so excited to play in a real game. I would always watch games on TV and see the older kids playing outside. Along with my youth coaches providing me with a solid foundation, I truly developed as a soccer player from observing the best players and playing everyday. 

What was it like coming to the United States to play soccer?

When I first came to the US, I had to adjust to the physical and mental demands of the game. My first game was in College, and after that game I had quickly learned that I had to increase my speed of play in order to compete. After college, I still had the fire to play at a higher standard and to continue to work hard and push myself. Therefore, I attended the USL combine and I was fortunate enough to play well and be selected by Charlotte Eagles. Playing at this level was an excellent challenge as well as an enjoyable experience.

Having years of experience playing both outdoor in the USL and indoor in the MASL, can you describe the differences between each type of game?

There are many differences between indoor and outdoor. For example, the MASL is a lot faster with shorter quicker movements. In the MASL you see more goals - which is clearly more exciting for the fans. Additionally, when it comes to set plays and free kicks, this side of the game is far more of a specialized in the MASL. There are also more individual battles. One thing you also learn quickly as a player, is that in the MASL there is less room for error - one mistake often gets punished (especially on defense where I play) and this can be the difference between winning or losing a game. Finally, in the MASL using the boards to find teammates or to put the ball in good areas is an important part of the game. 

What are the most important skills for your position and what is the key ingredient to winning a MASL Championship?

A player in my position has to be able to defend well in 1 v 1 situations. Reading the game is crucial and when making decisions (especially as the speed of play is so intense) you have to always stay composed. I believe the secret to winning a MASL championship is obviously having the right players. But then it is all about mental discipline.

What do you think it’s going to be like playing in Utica and starting a new team here? 

I’m very excited to play in Utica in front of passionate fans and inside such a great indoor arena. I know that soccer is a huge part of the community here, and I want the team, and myself, to show everyone how exciting the MASL truly is while bringing a championship to the area. 

Finally, who is your favorite soccer player and why?

My favorite player of all time is Xavi Hernandez. I like Xavi because he would control an entire game without having to dribble 3, 4 or 5 players at a time. The way he saw the game, he was always a step ahead. I think it’s important for young players learning the game to find someone they really like watching. Then focus on what it is they really do well and try and implement it themselves. Young players in the area who can attend MASL games are going to benefit hugely from watching professional players in this league. I know that’s what helped me when I was younger.