On Monday evening MLS rosters became frozen. Teams had until 5 PM eastern to make their final adjustments to the roster for the playoff push and like most years it did not come with a flurry of deadline day activity. A few teams made small moves like completing minor signings or placing a player on injured reserve but there was a lack of any real big splashes.
Toronto FC were reportedly working towards bringing in some reinforcements in the form of a centreback but the deadline came and went without anyone being brought in. They did make one minor move on Monday though with the addition of another home grown player in the form of Chris Mannella.
Mennella is the tenth player to make the jump from the academy system to the first team and is the second player to do so this year following behind Jordan Hamilton. The 20-year-old has been a fixture of the academy team for a number of years now including captaining the senior squad this year in League One Ontario and being a regular in TFC's reserve team in 2013.
The Canadian midfielder has spent much of this year impressing observers. He put in a strong performance in preseason with the first team, had a strong L1O campaign, and spent some time training with Wilmington over the summer months. For those who saw him play on a regular basis he was consistently the top talent in TFC's academy system.
Mannella has not only caught the eyes of Toronto's coaching staff but has apparently also garnered the attention of the Canadian National Team coaching staff who saw him at a number of L1O matches. Mannella also spent time playing for the University of Toronto where he had an impressive freshman campaign in 2012.
It will be interesting to see where Mannella fits in the plans for TFC next season. With the club working towards launching a USL Pro franchise of their own his signing could be with one eye towards him being a major part of that team's roster. There is also a good chance that Mannella is given the opportunity to play a role with the senior team next season.
Mannella plays in a more defensive role with the academy and has even spent some time as a CB. His role as a holding midfielder puts him in position to possibly hang around the roster for next season as the team is currently thin at that position and he could prove quite quickly to be an upgrade over Jeremy Hall and even Kyle Bekker.
Toronto now has a group of four young home grown players who will be looking to make the roster next season. Along with Mannella they have Quillan Roberts, Manuel Aparicio, and Jordan Hamilton who could all be in position to make a contribution next season if given the chance.
There is also some suggestion that TFC may not be done signing home grown players to the roster before the start of the 2014 MLS season. Even with four first round picks in the next SuperDraft it looks like the team prefers to stock up on home grown talent with the focus being on fielding a strong USL Pro field next season while adding depth to the first team. According to some close observers of the academy there are several other players who could be in line to make the jump up from the academy including Mark-Anthony Kaye who put in several good performances to close out the season with Wilmington.