At one point Keven Aleman, Michael Petrasso, and Dylan Carreiro were all members of Toronto FC's academy program and among the more promising talents. Aleman even got the chance to join the first team in camp when he was just 16 years old but that was before it all went wrong.
The three players left the club after different issues caused them to fall out of favor with the academy when it was under the guidance of Aron Winter. The players did not sign commitments to the club at the time that they were asked to do so and ended up moving on instead. In the case of Petrasso and Carreiro they wanted to explore options overseas before committing but that was not an option in the eyes of the academy so instead the players moved to SC Toronto before getting the chance to join the development system at Queens Park Rangers.
Both players were part of the QPR squad that picked up the Professional Development League 2 championship this season with the Under-18s squad. They have now signed their first professional contracts at the club penning deals through until the end of the 2013/2014 season. Their climb up the ranks could well see them playing for former Canadian International Marc Bircham who is the club's current coach of the Elite Development Squad which is for U-21 players.
Their official signing was announced on Thursday by the club as part of a group of seven players that signed deals for the recently relegated club.
Their professional deals come just a week after Keven Aleman extended his stay in Spain by coming to professional terms with Real Valladolid. He joined the club in February of 2012 having finally managed to secure the needed Visa to make the move to Spain. He started out in their youth ranks but last week completed terms on his first professional contract.
Aleman left Toronto FC Academy after representing Canada in the U-17 World Cup. His rights were eventually traded to the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the deal that brought in Terry Dunfield and he could have wound up at the club had he been unable to secure his Visa to play in Spain. That is all sorted out now though and chances are Vancouver will never be able to cash in on his rights because having signed in La Liga the odds of him moving to MLS anytime soon are quite slim.
It may not sit well with Toronto FC fans to know that the club could have held on to all of these players had there been a better academy system in place. With youth players only bound to the club by letters of commitment it is unlikely that Toronto FC will ever see anything for their role in helping develop three talented young players. The same can be said for the clubs where they trained before joining the academy. Hopefully the club learned from losing out on these three players and can create a better system to ensure that the top young talent is not tempted to make the move to Europe as soon as the door opens.
The good news of all of this is that three talented young Canadians will get the chance to continue their development at strong clubs. With Aleman seemingly committed to playing for Canada rather than Costa Rica he could be a key member of the National team sooner rather than later. With the U-20 team he showed loads of confidence and technical ability but also showed the downside when the coaching staff had to sit him out for breaking team rules. When he was on the field and focused though Aleman was one of the most impressive players in the tournament. With Canada in need of young talent in the middle of the park to provide that attacking flair he might be getting his first cap sooner rather than later as Aleman and Samuel Piette could one day make up the core of Canada's midfield for a long time.
Carreiro and Petrasso were also part of that U-20 team for Canada and despite being the only two players in the squad born in 1995 they held their own against CONCACAF Competition. Both got the chance to start for Canada during the event and Carreiro even found his name on the scoresheet for the quarterfinal against the United States. Both played beyond their age in that event and look to be on course for success but are probably a few years away still from being on the radar for the National Team.
Having Canadians climbing up the ranks at clubs like Queens Park Rangers and Real Valladolid can only be a good thing. With the National Team undergoing a lot of change since crashing out of World Cup qualifying last fall a lot of fans are looking for reasons to be optimistic. If these three players can continue to develop at top clubs then they might be a part of bringing back that optimism.