Toronto FC held Real Salt Lake to a 2-2 draw on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium after homegrown player Jayden Nelson managed the equalizer in the 79th minute to earn his side a point.
Nelson’s goal also stands as his first ever in Major League Soccer.
The 19-year-old is slowly finding his footing in Major League Soccer, coming into the 2022 season with 14 appearances for Toronto FC. Now, under new head coach Bob Bradley, the player has featured in all six matches of the season in a bid to become a crucial part of the team.
And his efforts are not going unnoticed.
“Look, I only speak about what I have seen from working with Jayden this year, and I mentioned throughout pre-season that he seems to be excited about the little things that get worked on every day. We’ve seen him in a more dynamic way, making more plays on the field in terms of getting away from guys, more moments where his skill, his speed, his quickness catch your eye,” said Bradley.
But the work isn’t over.
“I would agree that Jayden has had some moments where he’s gotten into the box and you think he’s on the verge of either making the right pass or finishing a chance. That part has to continue to improve. But maybe a goal like tonight makes a big difference in those ways. He continues to show that he’s got quickness, he’s got speed, he’s got individual ability on the balls where he can get away from someone. We just have to keep working to put the whole package together.”
After the match, the young homegrown player reacted to the strike, labeling it “one of the better goals” he’s scored.
“It’s definitely up there scoring for my hometown club,” Nelson said of the moment. “It’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, and I’ll remember. I’d say this is one of the better goals I’ve scored, so I’m happy about it.
“I feel like it gives me more confidence to do things in the final third, and it’s something that, like I said multiple times, I’ve been working on. So just getting this off my back – all the young guys scored already, so it’s finally that it’s my time now,” Nelson added.
His efforts also sparked World Cup rumors, adding to the conversion that he could be part of Josh Herdman’s side when Canada heads to Qatar. He has several months to maintain himself a part of that conversation, working tirelessly in Major League Soccer to compete for a spot on that roster.