Thanks to Duane Rollins over at Canadian Soccer News, Toronto FC fans may have gotten their first idea of where the likes of Manny Aparicio, Jordan Hamilton, Quillan Roberts, and Emery Welshman will be playing this year. According to a report by Rollins, TFC are set to announce a partnership with the Wilmington Hammerheads of USL Pro as part of the growing relationship between that league and MLS.
The reported partnership would open the door for up to four TFC players to go on loan to the USL club for the duration of the 2014 season. Such a move would allow the four young Canadians to actually have the chance to get meaningful minutes that will be crucial in continuing their development.
If the announcement of such a partnership is on the horizon for Toronto FC it would explain the reasoning behind the signing of Jordan Hamilton to a home grown deal on Thursday. The 17-year-old forward was unlikely to get any minutes with the first team in 2014 so having the ability to send him out on loan to get that playing time is a huge plus. Signing him now also ensures that TFC did not lose him to another club as the forward was drawing interest following his impressive showing at the U17 World Cup last fall.
According to the report the deal would be for the 2014 season with the chance for Toronto to renew it beyond that. The ideal seems to remain for TFC to create and run their own affiliate in USL Pro but with the Toronto Lynx move to Hamilton being rejected this seems to be the best solution.
By partnering with the Hammerheads now they have something in place for 2014 to replace the no longer existent reserve league. It also ensure that the club have time to work towards establishing their own affiliate if that remains the direction that they want to move in.
The Hammerheads were close to a playoff position in USL Pro season finishing just one point out of 8th place thanks to having a single point deducted from them for fielding an ineligible player. With a good chunk of their roster already set to return for the 2014 season they could be in good position to compete when you factor in the additions that could potentially come from TFC.
There is no official word from the club yet but considering all the big moves that are being made to improve the top end of the roster this move might actually prove to be the most important in the long run. A step between the academy and the first team is something that has been lacking in the past but this move is the first step towards filling the void.