Photo credit: Lucas Kschischang/Toronto FC

The 2024 MLS season just started, and Deybi Flores, the Toronto FC midfielder, has already gained the fan’s love. The 27-year-old Honduran is playing at his best, giving his sweat and soul on the field in every play.

But how is he impacting the TFC game?

Toronto FC lost the long tenure of Michael Bradley after his retirement and needed to replace him. They signed the former Vancouver Whitecaps player from the Hungarian side Fehérvár FC as a free agent to fill the void left by Bradley. 

Fans felt disappointed with Toronto’s signings last season, especially after a terrible three-season streak. But Flores has proven so far he’s more than enough to make a change in the midfield, at least on the defensive side, where TFC was the worst team last season. 

The midfielder monster

“He’s a dog in the middle of the field,” Jonathan Osorio said in an interview when he was asked about Flores. Indeed, he is a beast in the middle of the field, which stands out if you compare him this season versus the TFC midfielders’ average last season.

Deybi FloresTFC midfielders last season*
Touches per match73.756.8
Interceptions per match1.70.8
Recoveries per match7.35.2
% of duels won65.0%51.8%
*Midfielders with 10 or more matches in the 2023
**MLS season Stats courtesy of Sofascore

He has surpassed in almost every defensive category per game over every TFC midfielder from the 2023 season. The most relevant part is his passion and competitiveness in every play. That’s why he has averaged 4.3 tackles per game versus last year’s team average of 1.7 tackles per game. 

Photo credit: Lucas Kschischang/Toronto FC

Joining a new family

Joining a new team for a player is like joining a new family They have their own traditions (tactics), different members (players) and other ways to do the normal things (play style). 

“My teammates help me to adapt better to the team,” Flores said.

Head coach John Herdman Flores has proven himself with his mentality and desire to continually improve.

“In terms of defensive work, he [Flores] set the standard, and that is infectious to the rest of the team,” Herdman said.

Flores’s performance is also because of good coaching. He said he’s learned a lot from Herdman and wants to learn even more. For him, the most important aspect of Herdman is his humanity, calling the coach a great person. 

“My inspiration is God in my personal and professional life, my mother, my father, my grandmother and my son, he’s my blessing. That’s my motivation for every game,” Flores said. 

What is next?

The season just started, and there are 33 games left before the regular season finale. This is just the beginning, and Flores knows it. 

“TFC comes from bad years, but that is now in the past,” Flores said. “We think in the present and the future. The sky’s the limit. We didn’t have the mentality that we are the best. But step by step, this team can achieve great things.”

It’s too early to say if Flores will keep this kind of performance, but he definitely will be a key player for Herdman’s system. Right now, they are the only team with three clean sheets, one for each match they have played. And Flores has been an important piece for this to happen. 

Toronto FC faces New York City FC this week in New York and Atlanta United next week at BMO Field. In this game, Flores will not be available because he will be playing against Costa Rica as part of the Honduran squad as they fight for a spot to enter the Copa América this summer.