With Injuries and international call-ups Toronto FC has a reason to be optimistic with 3 homegrown players proving they belong.
Homegrown players are a staple in soccer leagues around the world. You read about Lionel Messi leaving Argentina when he was 13 to join Barcelona’s academy or the class of ’92 who worked their way up Manchester United’s academy ranks to become Champions League winners.
The MLS has a few promising homegrown players of their own including Juan Aguedlo, Gyasi Zardes, and Diego Fagundez. However, Toronto FC has not had much luck in the past with Homegrown players as Ashtone Morgan is really the only successful homegrown player Toronto FC have ever had.
The reason for this is once a player was signed from TFC Academy they then went straight to the first team and would usually sit on the bench and only play in reserve games. To fix this issue, in 2014 Toronto FC founded TFC II (who play in the USL) which acted as a place for Academy graduates to go to and keep developing their game before they move on to Toronto FC.
Since the forming of TFC II a few players have been turned heads and got called up and signed to Toronto FC’s first team. Jordan Hamilton, Molham (Mo) Babouli, and Jay Chapman are 3 players who have gone through TFC’s academy system, played for TFC II and are now playing for Toronto FC.
Jordan Hamilton, 20, was a member of Toronto Fc’s Academy and was signed to Toronto FC before there was a TFC II. However, Toronto gave him a few loan spells and when TFC II started Jordan Hamilton was loaned to them and made an impact right away by scoring the first goal in club history.
Since then he has gone back and forth between TFC and TFC II, but with the recent injury to Jozy Altidore, Hamilton has found himself playing in more games for TFC and scored a brace in the Amway Canadian Championship against Montreal, and scored his first MLS goal against Orlando this past weekend.
Mo Babouli, 23, is a feel good story that everyone can appreciate. Babouli almost gave up on his dreams of playing professional soccer when his local team faced off against TFC Academy. He impressed TFC Academy enough to get a spot on the squad and was their leading goal scorer in his first year with the club. That gave him a contract with the newly founded TFC II and he also scored in the teams first ever game. Fast forward to this year and he has meshed well with Giovinco and has played well enough to warrant 11 league appearances and 2 appearances in the Amway Canadian Championship. To think that just three years ago he debated giving up his dream of playing soccer professionally is crazy considering where he is today.
Jay Chapman, 22, is a bit of a different story then the other two mentioned previous. Although he is a homegrown player and played for TFC Academy he also played College soccer at Michigan State University where he won the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and was named as a First Team All American. Although he has only made 7 MLS appearances this year with Toronto FC, he has shown that he can play well anywhere in the midfield and works well with fellow Canadian Jonathon Osorio.
These young players have provided the depth TFC needs right now with injuries and international call-ups and if Toronto FC can hold on to all three of them they will be important pieces to the franchise for years to come.