It is that time of year again, when highly sought after high school athletes commit to which school they want to attend in the fall. Much of the attention goes to the top rated basketball and football players who are heading to the NCAA but this time of the year is still important for soccer players.
In the past Toronto FC's academy has sent several players to get an education and continue their playing career at the NCAA level. Taking this route does not mean the end of the road for a player in terms of making the first team but remains a viable option for players who are not yet ready to sign that coveted home grown contract. The prime example of that route is Matt Stinson who spent one season with the Winthrop Eagles in South Carolina. After being a standout for the school's team he return to TFC for training camp in 2011 and landed a professional contract and a chance to play with the senior team.
This year Toronto already has three players who seem set to head down and play college soccer in the States. Omari Morris is committed to heading to Akron in the fall. For the Pickering native getting the chance to play for the Akron Zips is very impressive as they boast one of the top soccer programs in the country. Akron has routinely produced talents like Darron Mattocks so by heading there Morris is giving himself a very good chance to improve his game. The midfielder was a member of Canada's under-17 World Cup squad this past year as well as being part of the senior academy team so he will be one to keep an eye on for a potential return to one day sign a home grown contract. Of the three players heading to play in the NCAA Morris is the only one that is not currently in training camp with the senior team.
Morris will be joined in the States by Jay Chapman who has been confirmed as a future Spartan. The attacking player has committed to Michigan State for the fall which is another decent program. The Spartans ended last season in the middle of the Big Ten but that was a bit of a down season and they have a good coaching staff in place. For a player like Chapman he will be given the chance to log some solid minutes at face some good opposition at Michigan State. He was another member of that Under 17 World Cup squad from the past summer that is in need of more time to develop and will now have the chance to do that at MSU. Chapman was invited to training camp this season but is very unlikely to get a home grown contract this time around.
The third Toronto FC player that seems set to be heading to play in the NCAA is goal keeper Quillan Roberts. He has reportedly committed to Wright State but as of now there is no confirmation from the school that he will be heading there come the fall. Add to that the fact that he seems to be very confused based on his recent tweets, which may have nothing to do with this decision, and it is hard to say for sure if he will end up in Ohio come the fall. Playing in the Horizon league would be a step down from where his academy teammates are heading but it would likely give him the chance to be a regular starter in goal which would be crucial for his development. Roberts has been training with the senior team for camp this year but it might be bad for his development to spend the year with the senior team stuck behind Stefan Frei and Milos Kocic. In the end he will likely spend the summer with the academy side in the CSL and then head to Ohio for at least one season but we shall have to wait for official confirmation for him. But no matter what happens we will all remember the fact that he scored a goal in the World Cup!
The three TFC academy players are not the only Canadians committing to the NCAA for next year. The entire crop is currently sitting at 18 players and that number will likely grow over the coming weeks. For the most complete list of commitments check out ESPN HS.