The Montreal Impact have struggled in recent times, dropping their last four games, leaving them desperate need of reinforcements ahead of a crucial stretch in the season. Olivier Renard, the club’s Sporting Director, wasted no time taking to the transfer market, acquiring Minnesota United FC’s promising young striker Mason Toye.
The price may have been steep, adding a second-round draft pick in 2021 in addition to $600,000 in General Allocation Money in the deal, but ultimately, the Impact got their man, a talented youngster eager to learn from a coach he admired during his legendary playing career.
“I’m from New Jersey. I got to see (Thierry Henry) play often with the Red Bulls. I’m coming in to be a sponge and take in all the information I can get, the positive reinforcement, as well as the criticism.” Toye said. “It’s an opportunity to take my game to the next level.”
Toye was initially drafted seventh overall in the 2018 MLS Superdraft by Minnesota United and slowly emerged as one of the league’s most intriguing young talents.
The 21-year-old used his first season in Major League Soccer to acclimate himself to the highest level and largely made cameo appearances off the bench, before breaking onto the scene the following year against LAFC. Toye put in a dominant display against Bob Bradley’s men, netting a well-taken brace. The young striker’s talent was no longer a secret.
Toye broke the deadlock with a wonderful move that he himself initiated from out wide. The former Minnesota United man darted past the LAFC rearguard and finished with great aplomb on his weaker foot, demonstrating his incredible turn of pace.
His first goal highlighted his instinctive movement, but it was undoubtedly his second strike that stole all the headlines. With his side up one, Toye carved out an opening for himself outside the box and curled an effort into the top corner – once again on his weaker foot.
In many ways, it was the 21-year-old’s coming out party. Toye finished the season with six goals and two assists in nine starts, rounding off an impressive year for the young striker.
“The main thing will be about scoring goals and creating goal-scoring opportunities here,” Toy said. “I’m here to score goals, especially in Montreal’s system, and how they play. That’s what I’m paid for. I think their system fits me to a tee.”
Toye has found playing time hard to come by despite last season’s exploits, making only five starts thus far. Minnesota United recently added veteran striker Kei Kamara from the Colorado Rapids, indicating the club may be entering in win-now mode.
Toye reportedly made his intentions clear following Kamara’s signing, asking the club for a move away should an opportunity present itself. The Impact was one of many suitors for the young striker, according to Minnesota United boss Adrian Heath, but ultimately the Canadian outfit made the best offer.
“It’s hard in this league to break in as a consistent starter. Obviously, I was frustrated, but that’s football,” said Toye. “The change in scenery is a good thing and is something I wanted.”
Toye will now be given the opportunity to establish himself as a regular in a stuttering Montreal Impact attack. Thierry Henry’s men have slid out of playoff contention in recent weeks and have been outscored 14 to four in their last four defeats.
The former Monaco tactician will be hoping Toye can provide his side with a much-needed spark in the final third, ahead of an important stretch for the club. Toye has demonstrated he can play just about anywhere across the front three, something Henry will be pleased with.
“The guy I looked up to the most growing up is my coach now. He is the striker that has made the biggest impact on me as a player,” said Toye. “Taking unorthodox shots and being creative is what I got from watching him. As a tall striker, he often took his team’s corners and set pieces. I’m used to that. The guy I model my game most of is Henry.”
The Montreal Impact confirmed that Toye will be joining the side in his home state of New Jersey and will begin training with the club on Sunday. Henry’s men have a crucial period ahead of them and take on the Chicago Fire next. Toye will now have his sights set on impressing his idol upon his arrival and potentially join a number of budding American talents abroad down the line.
“Most kids growing up have aspirations to play in Europe at the highest level. Now you’re seeing guys like (Weston) McKennie, (Giovanni) Reyna, and (Christian) Pulisic playing for the biggest clubs in the world,” said Toye. “Chris Richards just won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munch and they’re the best team in the world. He is a former U23 teammate of mine. To see these guys succeed gives me and all American talent more confidence.”