I had a chat with Jonathan Pearlman for a piece I wrote about Donny Toia in the Tucson Sentinel. He touched on Donny’s time at RSL, which didn’t result in any time on the field for the full squad before he got cut in early 2012.
RSL was a high-flying club at the time, and, Pearlman points out, there was no opportunity for him to slip into the starting 18. RSL’s then-coach Jason Kreis saw promise, but there wasn’t a place for him.
The time at FC Tucson and Phoenix FC turned out to be pretty good for him. He had the chance to grow as a player and a person. I remember one late season Phoenix FC match in 2013 where he had a confrontation with another player. I watched as Donny dealt with it and played on and I thought of the red card he would have gotten for whatever his reaction would have been only a year earlier.
Of course, he’s shown himself to be a worthy top-flight athlete many times in the years since. That coach that cut him back in 2012 has him back now as an MLS vet. I’m looking forward to a great season from Donny and am proud to have watched him grow into a leader.