TORONTO, CANADA—Ronnie O’Brien still has a soft spot in his heart for Toronto FC.
BMO Field is another story entirely.
Traded by the Canadian club in February, O’Brien returned to Toronto for the first time as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes in Saturday’s 0-0 draw.
“It was great to be back. I really enjoyed my time here, injuries notwithstanding, but for the most part I really enjoyed being here because it’s a great place to play,” O’Brien said.
A fan favorite during his brief tenure in Toronto, O’Brien received a fair share of boos every time he touched the ball in Saturday’s contest.
“That’s expected. It doesn’t matter what the reason is when you leave,” said O’Brien, who took the jeering in good fun.
When he was healthy, O’Brien, 29, was Toronto’s best player and creative linchpin in midfield last season, the team’s first in Major League Soccer.
But the Irishman missed the team’s first four games of the campaign with a knee injury, and then hurt his knee again in a July exhibition match against English club Aston Villa before having season-ending surgery in August.
O’Brien was not a fan of playing on the artificial field turf surface at BMO Field, and wasn’t shy about telling reporters that he felt it played a part in his injury problems.