When Ryan Nelsen left Queens Park Rangers to take a role as head coach of Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC, he took with him Hogan Ephraim.
At 24 years old, Ephraim – an attacking midfielder/winger – has spent the last four years on a series of loans, spending more time on the bench than on the field. Yet, in the first four games of the MLS season, Ephraim has already established himself as a clear choice for a starting role at Toronto FC, his latest loan outfit, located in the heart of Canada. It’s the kind of career resurgence that many players only dream of, and also the distinct reality of life in Major League Soccer.
Speaking to football.co.uk, Ephraim compared his time in England with football in Canada.
“I think the tempo in the UK is quicker just for the fact that you go back to front so early and you miss out on the midfield a lot of the time,” said Ephraim. “Here, teams like to build up from the goalkeeper and play up from the back, so it’s good to play in and better to watch as well.”
Though the style of play may differ, Ephraim will also have to adjust to living in a completely different city. Toronto, though modern and growing, lies thousands of miles west of London, an ocean between the two cities. This particular transition is one that Ephraim is soaking in.
“I’ve played my whole career in London and I’ve grown up in London; I’m a London boy, and Toronto is very similar,” said Ephraim. “It’s been an easy transition. It’s a bit more slow paced, which is nice, there’s not people rushing about. The restaurants, the hotels, they treat you very well so I’ve been impressed so far – the weather’s a bit crazy though!”
Snowy Toronto days aside, Ephraim has quickly settled down, and recommends MLS to other players looking for a new challenge or a fresh start.
“I think in the UK we’re quiet naïve in the fact that we look at our league and think we have the best in everything, and we tend to dismiss other countries and other leagues,” said Ephraim. “Coming out here has proven that’s not true at all, the standard’s very good, there’s some fantastic players and the atmosphere in the stadiums are great too.”
“I’d definitely recommend it to people back home.”