With the 2011 season winding down and Canada wrapping up the second round of World Cup qualifying things were looking great for Matt Stinson. The teenager was getting solid minutes for Toronto FC in both the midfield and at right back and he ended the season with his first call-up to the Canadian National team. He missed out on that call due to injury but at the time there was talk that he could be a long term solution at right back for both club and country.
Fast forward to March of 2013 and that dream of Stinson being a regular for club and country seems to have been just that, a dream. Nearly two years to the day of his signing (was signed March 17, 2011) Matt Stinson has been waived by Toronto FC with very little explanation as to why other than some media members speculating it had to do with persistent injuries and poor work rate in training.
Stinson ends his TFC career with one cap for Canada which he earned by coming on as a sub in January's friendly against the United States and 25 appearances for Toronto FC over two seasons. It is not the most impressive record but considering the fact that many felt he could be a first team regular back in his rookie season his career has taken a drastic turn for the worse since then.
Stinson is not the first academy grad to be released as he joins Oscar Cordon, Nicholas Lindsay, and Keith Makubuya in leaving the club. The fact that four home grown players have been released in the past six months should raise questions about the way that Toronto handles such signings in the future as none of those players were given the proper chance to develop after signing professional contracts.
Toronto has had some success with Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry but if four of the club's first six academy signings are already out the door it should be cause for the club evaluating the way they sign players and the way they find playing time for them after they are signed.
Regardless of any issues that may have existed with Stinson the fact is that he was not given the kind of consistent playing time that a player in his early 20's needs to be able to continue to improve. Sitting on the bench under Mariner was never going to do him any favours and it is now clear that he was not part of Nelsen's plans for whatever reason.
When you look back at all the rushed signings that happened under Aron Winter there was always going to be a fairly low success rate as he was basically just scraping the academy dry of any player who was remotely close to being ready to make the jump to the professional ranks. While Cordon and Makubuya quickly proved they were not ready Stinson showed signs of promise which makes his departure from the club that much more sad.
Hopefully Stinson lands on his feet somewhere and goes on to prove Toronto were wrong to give up on him but even if that does not happen hopefully players currently in the academy look at these guys leaving the club and make a point to learn from it. Getting that first professional contract is not the end of the journey for any player but should be just the beginning of the hard work if they actually want to stick around. We may never know just why it didn't work out for Stinson at Toronto but hopefully in the future the club improves it's success rate on home grown signings.