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Ashtone Morgan set for milestone as Toronto FC nears end of marathon road trip

TORONTO - Just 24, Ashtone Morgan is working under his fifth manager at Toronto FC.The Canadian fullback has been the flavour of the month and fallen so far down the depth chart you need sonar to find him.But given a chance to play this season thanks to a string of defensive injuries, Morgan has demonstrated his worth again.And on Saturday in Philadelphia, the young defender can make a club-record 100th appearance in all competitions for Toronto. Morgan is currently tied at 99 with former goalie Stefan Frei."I'm excited for it," said Morgan, who has kept an even keel during what has been a sometimes rocky ride with his hometown club. "It's kind of crazy, 100 games for the club — all the changes and what not."Toronto (2-4-0) is on the seventh stop of a marathon road trip due to renovations to BMO Field. After a midweek Amway Canadian Championship date in Montreal, Toronto will finally play at home May 10 against the Houston Dynamo.While Philadelphia (1-5-3) is off to its worst ever start, Toronto is taking nothing for granted."In this league sometimes the most dangerous teams are the ones that aren't playing particularly well or at least the results haven't been great," said captain Michael Bradley."They physically are a strong team, they compete and they are dangerous when they win the ball and are able to counter. We have to go in there with total respect for them regardless of the way they started, regardless of their record, and know that it's not going to be an easy game."Added striker Jozy Altidore: "In MLS ... anybody can beat anybody."Toronto is coming off a 2-0 win in Orlando, its first shutout of the season. Philadelphia was beaten 4-1 by Columbus last time out.With Steven Caldwell (Achilles) and fullback Mark Bloom (quad) still out, coach Greg Vanney looks to keep a back four of Morgan, Damien Perquis, Nick Hagglund and Justin Morrow.Backup goalie Chris Konopka, a former Union player, looks likely to make his third MLS start in five seasons with starter Joe Bendik nursing a foot injury.At his best, Morgan is a pacey fullback who can deliver a fine cross. But the occasional defensive miscue has cost him the confidence of Toronto's coach du jour at times.Vanney has proved to be a believer."I think he's had an excellent run early in the season," said Vanney."For Ash, a little bit was about confidence and having somebody who believes (in) him and gives him a little bit of information here and there on how he can continue to improve his game," he added. "Because he's still a young developing player."He's taken all that on board. He's an eager learner. He's slowed down some of his challenges and some of the things that got him in trouble a little bit before and he's making better decisions."Morgan joined the TFC academy at 16 and made his senior debut in 2010 against Panama's Arabe Unido in CONCACAF Champions League play."It was just a great experience," he recalled. "I remember I had a massive tackle. My dad still talks about it today."The Union have given up a league-worst 17 goals but only five have come at home where the team is 1-2-1. Eleven goals have been conceded in the second half with coach Jim Curtin saying he would give his team defence an F grade. Toronto has just 10 goals in six games but eight of those have come in the second half.Curtin says goalie Andre Blake is close to returning from knee surgery but he is leaning towards having John McCarthy start.———Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter.

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