Lukas MacNaughton continues to make his mark at Toronto FC

A yr in the past, who would have thought that Lukas MacNaughton could be scoring a header from a Federico Bernardeschi cross within the 2022 Canadian Championship Ultimate?

Over the course of the 2022 marketing campaign, MacNaughton has wanted to step up in methods which he might haven’t anticipated to following his arrival from the reigning Canadian Premier League champions, Pacific FC.

Having began Toronto FC’s final 4 video games in all competitions, the 27-year-old has steadily continued to make an impression in a TFC backline that has undergone a number of modifications all through the season thus far.

“Lukas has finished nicely along with his alternatives. He is hard-nosed and an identical participant to myself,” stated Shane O’Neill O’Neill on MacNaughton’s performances for the Reds.

Since coming off the bench to make his TFC debut within the 4-1 defeat to the New York Pink Bulls again in March, MacNaughton has performed 1070 minutes by 16 MLS appearances and 11 begins. He was additionally within the beginning XI for the 2020 Canadian Championship Ultimate towards Forge FC and featured within the 2022 version of the competitors, notably scoring Toronto’s equalizer within the remaining towards the Vancouver Whitecaps.

MacNaugton’s admirable show at BC Place was then adopted by a person of the match efficiency in TFC’s goalless draw with the New England Revolution, the Reds’ second consecutive MLS clear sheet and their first league shutout on the highway since September 2021.

Forward of the beginning of the season, Bob Bradley had three skilled center-backs at his disposal: Carlos Salcedo, Chris Mavinga and O’Neill. Furthermore, MacNaughton was seemingly set to characteristic sporadically for the Reds in his debut MLS season.

With Salcedo now again in Liga MX and Mavinga solely having simply returned to league motion after lacking the video games towards CF Montreal and Charlotte FC, MacNaughton has seized the chance to impress Bob Bradley and stake his declare for a beginning function within the coronary heart of Toronto FC’s protection.

Towards New England, MacNaughton’s tenacity was on full show because the defender received every of his three duels. As well as, he recorded a game-high 10 clearances.

Throughout his first a number of appearances for the membership, it’s protected to say that MacNaughton was nonetheless discovering his footing in a brand new atmosphere, which is arguably not stunning for a participant who solely made his skilled debut in April 2019 throughout the inaugural CPL marketing campaign.

Now in 2022, the defender is taking part in extra minutes than he in all probability would have thought coming into the second half of the season. With extra invaluable MLS minutes beneath his belt, MacNaughton has proven indicators of enchancment week in week out whereas having the chance to play and practice alongside the likes of Mavinga, O’Neill, Doneil Henry, and naturally, Domenico Criscito.

Within the midst of a turbulent season close to the crew’s outcomes, MacNaughton has duly taken benefit of the alternatives he has been given by Bob Bradley to show his price. With extra eyes now on the defender since making his bow in MLS, a possible call-up to the Canadian males’s nationwide crew might certainly be on the playing cards within the close to future.

John Herdman isn’t any stranger to together with bettering, in-form gamers in his squads, as seen with Jacob Shaffelburg in October 2021 and Raheem Edwards in June 2022. Though a spot in Les Rouges’ 26-man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup isn’t unattainable, however moderately inconceivable, there isn’t a doubt that if MacNaughton continues to ship on the membership stage, he might earn himself a call-up in 2023, the place Canada is ready problem for the Gold Cup and the CONCACAF Nations League.

From taking part in with the College of Toronto Varsity Blues for 5 years to starring alongside Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne, and Michael Bradley in Toronto FC’s beginning XI, MacNaughton’s journey is inspiring to say the least. As he appears to finish his debut Toronto FC season on a excessive with extra spectacular performances on the again, the 27-year-old will firmly have his sights set on persevering with to show heads forward of the 2023 season.

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