Part 12 of our 13 part USL Eastern Conference Preview series. Links to previous precocious previews: Part I: Bethlehem Steel; Part 2: Charleston Battery; Part 3: Charlotte Independence; Part 4: FC Cincinnati; Part 5: FC Montreal; Part 6: Harrisburg City Islanders; Part 7: New York Red Bulls II;Part 8: Orlando City B; Part 9: Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Part 10: Richmond Kickers; Part 11: Rochester Rhinos
The Biggest Losers in the USL
Toronto FC II is nowhere near as good as the Toronto FC in MLS, but were not the worst in the Eastern Conference in 2015. They were second worst. I guess my editor Taylor Sorrels is telling me to cover the worst teams in the whole USL, because he knows I hate covering losing teams. I joke, but in the random team preview selection we did, he gave me the 2 worst teams.
Not a whole lot of positives to say about Toronto FC II’s 2015 season. They had an amazing record of 6 wins, 17 losses, and 5 draws. They also had a great defense allowing 52 goals (3rd most in the USL!). Also, they were second worst in points overall only behind the team I previously wrote about, the Wilmington Hammerheads. On the bright side, they can’t get any worse (right?).
With new talent coming in, the Little Reds certainly hope they will be better than last season. My research about TFC II’s off season confirmed what I suspected from the MLS B-teams: they are playing young talent to get exposed to professional play. Toronto FC II was one of the youngest teams in the USL last season (their oldest players (2) were 24, my age). During the off season Toronto FC II picked up the contract options on defenders Adam Bouchard, Wesley Charpie, Skylar Thomas; midfielders Sal Bernal, Raheem Edwards and forward Molham Babouli. The two players already under contract for the 2016 season were midfielders Bubacarr Jobe and Luca Uccello. Toronto FC II also declined options on defenders Daniel Fabrizi, Mark-Anthony Kaye (we know who picked him up), Emeka Ononye; midfielder Edwin Rivas and forward Massimo Mirabelli. Forward Ben Spencer returned to Molde Fotballklubb (Molde FK) of the Norwegian Tippeligaen following the expiry of his loan (which I am sure he is happy about). The club also signed midfielder Anthony Osorio to a USL contract. Osorio, 21, appeared in 17 matches, starting in 10, registering two assists as a loanee during the 2015 USL regular season for Toronto FC II. He made his first professional start on May 16 against Louisville City FC.
The first off season contract signed for the new year was a TFC academy product, midfielder Malik Johnson. Johnson, 17, appeared in seven matches, starting in five, while logging 390 minutes during the 2015 USL regular season for Toronto FC II as a call up from the Kia Toronto FC Senior Academy team. He made his first professional start against the Rochester Rhinos and his professional debut against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Midfielder Martin Davis, from Jamaica, signed with Toronto FC II at the start of February. Davis, who is only 19, appeared in two matches, one of which he started, while logging 68 minutes during the 2015 USL regular season for Toronto FC II as a call up. He played against Whitecaps FC 2 and FC Montreal during his 2 games in 2015. Davis represented the Jamaican Men’s National team at the U-17 and U-20 levels. He made his international debut for the Jamaican U-17 team during the Caribbean Cup against Bermuda. The club also signed Liam Fraser, but I have nothing on this guy other than he is 18 and from Canada.
Being a B-team side for Tornoto FC, the Twos can draw from an Academy for young talent or draw from first team benchwarmers, like the guy behind Sebastian Giovinco (does anyone even know who that is?). They have currently drawn two goalkeepers, one defender, two midfielders, and one forward from their senior team. From the Academy team they have drawn two more goalkeepers, six defenders (a whole backline), one midfielder, and two forwards. So to say this team doesn’t have players would be a lie. To say they don’t have depth if starters get hurt would clearly be a lie. They have enough players to do a John Calipari platoon system at half time if they wanted to and still have subs to replace them. Toronto FC II also received cut players from the first team. The club announced Alex Bono, Chris Mannella, Wesley Charpie, Brian James and Darius Madison will join Toronto FC II this month. Tornoto FC II will cut their roster down and send players to the Academy as they do not make the cut.
Expect the Reds, Jr. to remain a young team with largely inexperienced players who will be looking to show what they have to other teams and to the Toronto senior team. Whatever the case, I expect the returning players will bring leadership to the team and will be hoping to better last season’s second worst in the whole USL (3 of the worst teams in the USL were in the Eastern Conference).