Reports out of Holland are suggesting that Toronto FC will be taking part in the 2013 AEGON Youth Cup. The tournament, one of the top youth events in the world, is set to take place over the Easter weekend (March 30th-April 1st) and feature U-17 sides from some of the top clubs on the planet.
Last year the final was contested between Manchester United and Ajax and was won on penalties by the Dutch hosts. That should give you a sense of the calibre of club that is attracted to this tournament. If that is not good enough to get you salivating over the idea, consider that in 2012 the full lineup for the tournament included Ajax, Manchester United, Desportivo Brasil, Besiktas, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern München, AC Milan, Ajax Cape Town.
That is about as close as you will get to having the who's who of youth soccer development in a single place for a weekend and if Toronto FC were to join the field in 2013 it would certainly be a big chance for the academy to gain exposure and for the players to gain some priceless experience.
The reports are suggesting that the field for 2013 will include the hosts Ajax, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Anderlecht, Tottenham, and Toronto FC. There would be two other teams added to round out the field to the normal eight participants and the odds are good that the missing teams will come from clubs like AC Milan and Manchester United who are regular participants.
There is one major reason to believe that this might actually be happening and that is Kevin Payne. When he was trying to form DC United into something that followed the Ajax model for youth development he got the club included in the 2011 rendition of the event. DCU sent their U-16 academy team to the event and came home with a 1-3 record but some priceless experience playing against some of the best teenagers in the world.
Toronto's inclusion in 2013 would be a great sign for the academy and would show that the club is focused on exposing their up and coming players to the best the soccer world has to offer. Toronto may well end up getting run off the pitch against a number of these teams but it would show the players just what the standard is like at the top clubs.
We will follow the story as it further develops but it seems quite likely that come Easter weekend Toronto FC's U-16 academy side could be in Amsterdam playing against their counterparts from Bayern or Barcelona and that is something to be excited about.