Doneil Henry didn't have the most memorable first half against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, but his coach's faith in him hasn't wavered.TORONTO -- It was a rough opening 45 minutes for Toronto FC on Saturday, as the Reds gave up two ugly goals in the first half en route to a 2-1 loss to the visiting Seattle Sounders.
To put things in perspective, the Sounders scored both goals despite registering only a single shot on target in the first half according to the official match stats, with the winning strike coming off TFC defender Doneil Henry's heel as he backed up in front of his net while trying to cover an onrushing attacker.
It was one of those nights for the young centre back, as Henry was also involved in Seattle's opener -- a strange play that saw Toronto's entire back line freeze in place to allow Mauro Rosales a free shot on goal.
Henry was the closest TFC player to Rosales.
"It was a confusing play," the 20-year-old Canadian international told reporters after the match. "They kind of drifted [to the] back post and we thought it was offside, and we all broke down when that happened. [We were] really, really unlucky today."
If Toronto has gotten anything right this season, it's the team's defensive shape and discipline. TFC has been hovering around the middle of the pack in terms of goals allowed all year long, and Henry has played major minutes throughout the season.
His coach, former Premier League central defender Ryan Nelsen, is full of praise for the young player, and he was quick to defend Henry after a match that saw TFC's back line have to contend with the likes of Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey.
"He's playing against a U.S. international, a Nigerian international who's played at the highest level in the Premier League, and a player who was one of the most sought-after players in Europe when he [Martins] came off, so I thought he handled himself really well," Nelsen said. "He's only just turned 20, and I'll tell you what, when I turned 20 I was nowhere near the level of what he's doing.
"For me he's such a bright spark for this club, he'll only get better and better."
For his part, Henry said his confidence won't be shaken by a poor couple of minutes against a high-powered attack.
"I think I'm playing because I'm supposed to be playing and I'm capable of playing," the youngster said. "I think even on other teams I could start."
Like everyone else who has watched TFC play this year, Henry acknowledged that it was a lack of scoring that has proved fatal for his team time and again, and until the goals start flowing for Toronto, the pressure will remain on himself and his fellow defenders.
"As soon as the ball starts bouncing our way and we start winning some games, there won't be a problem with this back line," he said. "I think if we can just do our job as a team and just start winning some games, there would be no problem."