Tsubasa Endoh, Japanese midfielder, drafted by Toronto FC
Mom watches University of Maryland star picked in 1st round of MLS SuperDraft
Love is flying 14 time zones in the hopes your son gets taken in the MLS SuperDraft.
Tsubasa Endoh's mother did just that arriving — video camera in hand — to see her University of Maryland midfielder/son chosen ninth overall by Toronto FC on Thursday.
It led to a prolonged photo-op backstage, including Endoh's mother, agent and a bevy of Toronto FC executives.
The 22-year-old Endoh was named MVP of the MLS Combine that proceeded the draft but said he didn't expected to go until the second round.
"It's just incredible. I didn't see it coming," he said of going ninth.
His mother arrived Wednesday, just in time.
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney was ecstatic at getting the five-foot-seven 141-pounder whom TFC has been watching for some time. Vanney made him sound like the Stephen Hawking of Japanese soccer.
Tops in soccer ability
"For us he was arguably the top player in the draft in terms of soccer ability — his education on the game, his knowledge of the game, his awareness of spacing time, his technical proficiencies.
"He fits into our group quickly. He can play the game. he's a very intelligent player. He's shifty and crafty and two-footed. And he's excellent at setting up opportunities. He can also get his own. He showed that over the course of the Combine."
Vanney says Endoh also comes from good genes. His father was a marathoner while his mother was a highly rated tennis player.
Endoh played 85 games in four years at Maryland with 12 goals and 16 assists.
"I think I'm a player who brings a lot of energy to the field," he said. "I can cover a lot of ground."
He can play attacking midfielder or on either flank, able to use both feet to good effect. Vanney sees him starting off as a winger, a position where Toronto has lacked depth.
Off the field, Endoh survived being a stranger in a strange land after coming to the U.S.
"Definitely something we took notice of," said Vanney.
"It was tough, I'm not going to lie," Endoh said. "It was such a tough adjustment for me."
Japan's football academy
Growing up in Japan, Endoh played for national age-group teams from under-12 to under-17 and spent six years at Japan's football academy. When he was 16, he opted for a program that allowed players to play abroad.
"I chose the U.S.A. because I wanted to learn some English," he said.
His English, at the time, was poor. "I could understand what people were saying but I couldn't express myself."
So he enrolled in an English institute for a year. Today his English is near flawless.
Endoh, whose goal eventually is to play in Europe, says he can't wait to play with and learn from the likes of Toronto's Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovenco.
Vanney believes such stars will enjoy playing with Endoh.
"He knows how to keep the game moving and he knows the right time to make something happen."
Added Vanney: "He could be a contributor this year. How quickly we'll find out."
Endoh will occupy an international spot, which Vanney says his team has available.