As a player, Manny Aparicio made great strides this season. Unfortunately for Toronto FC, the majority of those strides came while he was playing for country, not club.
Average Ranking: 28.6
Highest Rating: 26
Lowest Rating: 30
Joining the Toronto FC senior team in 2013, the eight TFC Academy player to graduate to the senior team has yet to play a minute in Major League Soccer. In fact, he seems to be caught behind other academy products. Whenever Toronto FC need offensive depth they call up Jordan Hamilton, whenever they need a midfielder it is Chris Mannella.
This meant the 20-year-old Aparicio spent most of the season playing for Toronto FC II in the USL, where he played 20 games and 13 starts. As such he was one of the club's leaders in games played, but wasn't able to statistically back it up as he no goals or assists in that time.
Aparicio did, however, make an appearance for the senior team in a pair of friendlies against Sunderland and Manchester City. Particularly against City Aparicio impressed, and was the best out of the Toronto FC academy players. He hit a post on what at the time would have been the go-ahead goal and generally looked confident and professional.
Where Aparicio has really made strides this year, however, is with the Canadian national team which he has been involved with at several levels. He was a recent callup of the senior national team to their camp for an October friendly against Ghana.
He also made his senior national team debut this past season when Canada played against Colombia under interesting circumstances. With Canada trailing one of the top teams in the world only 1-0 late in the match, they earned a free kick on the edge of the Colombian area.
Instead of getting one of the players already on the field to take the free kick, Benito Floro decided to substitute on Aparicio. He didn't score, hitting the wall, but it was a big vote of confidence from Floro. By all accounts Aparicio loves the big moments, one of the reasons perhaps why he was so good against Manchester City.
On top of this, Aparicio also represented Canada at the U-20 CONCACAF Championships and the Pan Am Games. Playing against his age group he continues to reenforce the fact that he is promising prospect.
There are questions to be answered with Aparicio, however, namely where he goes from here. Among Toronto FC academy products he is dropping down, as is emphasized by his lack of appearances for the big club. Chris Mannella and Jay Chapman are the first choice midfield prospects, a position where Toronto FC is already fairly deep.
He has been 29th on the ranking for two straight years, not the most objective metric to be fair, but a decent indicator nonetheless that he didn't make any major club strides this season. He is still one for the future and will need time to develop into an everyday pro.
It is likely, then, that Aparicio will continue to play in the USL next season, but this could end up being a big opportunity for him. Chris Mannella is likely to get a much longer look with the senior team next season, leaving the captaincy vacant. Whether or not he gets the band, Aparicio will be among the leadership group of that team.
Aparicio didn't blow any one away this year, but made study progress forward. Still only time will tell whether he is good enough to ever consistently feature in a Toronto FC shirt in Major League Soccer.