Mason_toye_-_asn_top_-_isi_-_minnesota_celebration_-_2019_-_jeremy_olsen Jeremy Olson/ISI Photos
Player spotlight

Toye looking to build off recent success, eyes playoffs and U.S. U-23s

Mason Toye is on an absolute tear right now and he not only scoring goals but rather scoring at crucial moments to help Minnesota in both the U.S. Open Cup and in the league's playoff race. ASN's Brian Sciaretta spoke at length with the New Jersey native about the ups and downs of his development and his newfound optimism. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
July 16, 2019
9:00 AM
THE TRANSITION from the youth levels to the first team can be a difficult period for a lot of players. Some players are able to make adjustments and improve, others never do. Mason Toye was at such a crossroads last winter after his rookie season with Minnesota.

After leaving Indiana University after just one semester, where he was named the Big 10 Freshman of the year, Toye signed a Generation Adidas contract with MLS and was drafted with the seventh overall pick by Minnesota with the seventh overall pick in the draft.

But the first year was challenging for Toye, 20, as Minnesota struggled in its expansion year and didn’t make the playoffs. Toye made 17 appearances but only two were starts. He didn’t score and registered only a single assist. In August he was loaned to the Colorado Springs Switchbacks of USL for the remainder of the season.

Following the season, Toye readily admits that it was a period of difficult soul-searching.

“I only went to college for a semester,” Toye recalled to ASN. “It was basically like I was coming out of high school right into playing with grown men. Growing up and even in college, I never had to work extremely hard. And coming here was a big wake-up call for me. Stuff really wasn't going my way. I realized at the end of my rookie year I had to put my head down and really work that much harder to get myself to a place where I can be of a use to the team.”

“A big part of it was in the beginning of the offseason,” he added. “I just said: 'look I gotta look at myself in the mirror.’ I had look at myself and see what I'm not doing well and how I can get better and not point the finger at coaches or other players, or things that didn't go my way - really take responsibility for my career and I think that helped me a lot. I'm just trying to be a mature person and take the blame for stuff not going well for me.”

Following another loan to Forward Madison to start the 2019 season, Toye has hit a stunning hot-streak that has raised eyebrows in recent weeks. It essentially began on June 18 in Minnesota’s 3-2 U.S. Open Cup win over Houston when Toye came off the bench and scored the winning goal in the 89th minute. The next week he scored in a 7-1 rout over Cincinnati. Two games later he would add a brace in a 3-2 road win over Montreal – as he would also do in a recent friendly against Forward Madison.

The highlight came over the most recent weekend, he came off the bench and scored a stoppage-time winning goal at home in a 1-0 win over FC Dallas. Combining his last seven official games s(five in the league and two in the Open Cup), Toye now has five goals and two assists while playing just 192 minutes during that span. 

“Mason is starting to do the things that we know he's capable of,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath said after the win over Dallas. “It's only the beginning for him, his career's just starting. He's got to remember why he's getting the rewards. You've heard me say it before: I'm a huge believer that you get out of not only life, but football what you put in. And he's getting the rewards for 18 months of every afternoon wanting to work, wanting to get better, watching video, moving home so he'd be closer to the training ground. All these little things, they add up and that's why he's got his reward today. I'm really proud of him and really pleased for him.”

While he was working on his game in the offseason and heading into preseason, Toye knew he had the physical tools to succeed and his first touch an technique was always solid. Instead, his biggest areas of improvement have come in his awareness of where to be in the field to anticipate plays and where and when to make certain runs. The result has been him scoring goals and Minnesota getting valuable wins as it pushes into the top four of a very competitive Western Conference.

Whether or not Toye will continue to push towards his potential remains to be seen but right now he is riding a run of great form and remains confident. The rewards of hard work and sticking through tough times is paying off and now that he is getting a glimpse of success, he is eager to keep it going.

“We're on a really good run right now. Confidence is high all around the team. For me personally, scoring a lot of goals. I am very confident right now and I am just trying to live in the moment and enjoy this time because it took a lot of hard work to get here. So hopefully I can continue this form for the rest of the season.”

Toye is a native of northern New Jersey and had the fortune of watching one his idols, Thierry Henry, play in person during his stint with the New York Red Bulls towards the end of his career. He used that inspiration from watching the French legend as his career progressed at the youth level.

During his junior year of high school, he trialed at Sporting CP in Portugal and then with Hannover in Germany after his senior year out of which he was offered an amateur deal with Sporting. But instead he elected to go to college for a semester before signing professional contract. Still he insists that the desire to eventually play abroad is still there.

Also potentially on the horizon for Toye is a chance with the U.S. U-23 team which will soon have more camps ahead of next year’s Olympic qualifying tournament. Toye knows that success in Minnesota could open the door for him to be part of the U.S. team that will attempt to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 12 years.

“I know that it's a possibility but I know that if I'm doing things I need to do for Minnesota - scoring goals and contributing to the team then my chances of making that team and making the roster for the Olympics are better,” Toye said. “I say that is a goal of mine. It is a goal of almost all professional players. You want to represent your country. If I was able to represent my country in the Olympics, it would and absolute dream come true but I right now I have to just worry about taking care of business in Minnesota.”

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