The MLS season is almost over and it seems that with TFC's season already down the drain focus is starting to shift towards what will happen in the offseason. With Ryan Nelsen getting a vote of confidence from his boss, Tim Lieweke, it makes sense that he should be thinking about not only the upcoming offseason but well beyond that.
Part of his plan seems to be sending out some of his key young players on loans this offseason to help them continue their development in competitive environments. According to an article by Steve Bottjer on mlssoccer.com the plan is to send players out on loan to clubs that play a similar style to that of Toronto FC and are managed by people who Nelsen knows and trusts.
Considering that Toronto basically built their roster off of loans from England early in the season it will be nice to see things going the other way. Nelsen worked all of his contacts in England to help build the roster and hopefully in doing so built up more good favour with clubs across the pond. If Nelsen can manage to set up a number of loans for the young players in the team it could prove to be quite beneficial for the club heading into the 2014 season and even beyond.
It will be interesting to see just which players Nelsen decides to send out on loan this winter. Guys like Matias Laba, Jonathan Osorio, Doneil Henry, and Ashtone Morgan have all logged fairly substantial minutes this season and may not be in need of the additional playing time but could benefit from the experience. For Henry and Morgan it would be their first extended experience of playing outside of their comfort zone and away from Toronto. That is a valuable part of the experience these loans could provide which is something that Nelsen pointed out in the article saying, "They will 100 percent gain from the experience. They get away from their mum's cooking and they have to clean their own clothes and do their own stuff. And things will happen to them in life that North America doesn't expose them to. It is a nice quality of life here and in most of the world it is a bit harder and a bit tougher."
They are not the only players who could benefit from such loans as there are other who have not seen a lot of action this season and could use more time even if it is just on the training field. Both Kyle Bekker and Emery Welshman have failed to play any sort of significant minutes this season after being taken in the first round of the 2013 SuperDraft. The club still sees both as being part of the long-term plan and sending them on loan to try and speed their development along would certainly be worth giving a try.
Bekker's biggest knock this season has been that he is not up to speed in the games which has really limited his impact on the games that he has managed to play. Keeping him in an intense training environment could help him speed up his game to the level that it needs to be at for him to actually become more of a regular contributor in 2014. There is clearly potential there which Toronto FC and the Canadian National team are just hoping he can live up to sooner rather than later.
Other young players who could wind up going out on loan include Quillan Roberts (fairly unlikely due to his age), Gale Agbossoumonde, Manuel Aparicio (also unlikely due to age), and even Maximiliano Urruti. It will be interesting to see which players Nelsen is able to find loan deals for but it is clear that he has plenty of options to chose from.
TFC have yet to really make use of loans to help develop players but this would not be the first time that the club has sent a player out on an offseason loan to help them continue their training. Two years ago it was Stefan Frei going to Liverpool for a training stint and last winter it was Luis Silva going to Germany to train with FSV Frankfurt. Both players enjoyed their training stints but sadly TFC never really reaped the benefits as Frei was injured shortly after and Silva seemed to lose all his confidence before being traded to D.C. United.
Fans will be hoping that this round of loans are far more successful in the long run than the previous two were. With a number of key players likely to go out on loan the success of these deals could play a big role in any success that TFC hope the achieve in 2014.
Which players would you like to see go out on loan this winter and where do you want to see them wind up in England for their training stints?