As part of a whirlwind day of deals a week ago, Minnesota United selected reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Mason Toye with the No. 7 pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft. Toye, a 6-3 standout forward at Indiana and a New Jersey native, is just 19 years old. With Minnesota United already in the midst of training camp, he chatted recently with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q How have you adjusted to life so far as a professional player?
A Everything is definitely ramped up in intensity and quality so you have to be locked in throughout the whole entire training session. It definitely shows you what you need to improve on, which is good. The pace and thought process and things you have to do on the field, those things I’m trying to get better at and execute every day. … Movement and timing are really big. That was something I had to work on in college because that was a step up, and this is an even bigger step up. It’s going to take time, but I think I’m with some awesome players and coaches who are going to help me get better every day.
Q Do you have expectations for yourself in terms of getting on the field this first year?
A I’m not really worried about that right now. We’re just a few days into camp, and I’m trying to work as hard as I can every day to improve. Hopefully I can earn some playing time this year, but this year I’m really just trying to learn. I’m a really young guy. Hopefully I’ll be ready for those opportunities.
Q You played a lot of sports before you settled on soccer. What was that process like?
A I have an older brother, and I did everything he did. I started out playing hockey, interestingly enough. That was my first sport. Then I moved into soccer, then baseball, then basketball and lacrosse. Everything my brother did, I did. Soccer ended up being my niche, so I stayed with that.
Q I understand you were a really good basketball player. Was it difficult to give that up?
A It wasn’t too hard. I just kind of went with my gut. I gave basketball a chance, and I played it really, really competitively at the highest level. I really just felt like I was going to be able to be a pro in soccer and not in basketball. It’s harder to make it in basketball. I thought I could make a career out of soccer, and I had a real love and passion for it.
Q What kind of hockey player were you?
A I was a left wing, very fast skater. I scored a good amount of goals. I stopped playing when I was like 11 or 12, but it was a good time. … I was able to skate since I was maybe 3, and I was always on the ice. I haven’t skated in a while, so I’m trying to stay away from it. I don’t want to do anything crazy and get hurt.
Q Take me back to the draft last week. What was that experience like for you?
A It was pretty special and very hectic. I had zero clue where I was going to go. I thought I might go one place, but I ended up here, and it was awesome. I think I ended up in a really, really good place. There are great people and great fans. I’m happy I ended up here.