The MLS season may have kicked off over the weekend for Toronto FC's senior team but that does not mean the hard work of preseason is complete for the club. While TFC are busy competing on the MLS front the USL squad are still busy with their preseason preperations.
Toronto FC II have kept busy since returning from Florida where they trained with the senior team and took part in a couple of friendlies against local colleges. The team has been training at Downsview and had another friendly last week as they took on the Ottawa Fury. The Fury came away with a 3-2 win in the game with Jordan Hamilton finding the back of the net twice in the opening 45 minutes for TFCII.
The team are preparing the the USL season which is now just around the corner. TFCII open the 2015 USL campaign with a lengthy road trip which kicks off with the first game of the year when they take on the Charleston Battery on March 21st at Blackbaud Stadium.
Before they can take to the field for the first game of the season the club is going to have to assemble their roster. Waking the Red has learned that the team has signed a number of players and should be set to make a formal announcement about the roster this week.
The final roster is going to look very much like the one that we saw throughout the preseason as the club and Head Coach Jason Bent have elected to built their team from within the club. The final roster will be made up of some of the older academy players, draft picks, and some members of the senior team that will be sent down on loan to TFCII.
The goalkeepers on the roster should be Alex Bono and Quillan Roberts who will both be competing for starting minutes. Both youngsters are highly rated keepers and put up impressive numbers in their respective leagues last year. Bono was one of the top rated keepers in NCAA which led to him signing a Generation Adidas deal and going early in the first round while Roberts put up some of the best numbers in USL Pro last season. There is also a chance that the team will sign Filippo DiBennardo, the top keeper in the academy, to serve as a third option.
In front of them the core of the defence is likely going to be made up of players that were taken in this year's MLS SuperDraft. Skylar Thomas and Clement Simonin should be the starting CBs on this team with Wesley Charpie starting at right back. The team also used trialist Franco Lo Presti during preseason at CB and LB but he is no longer with the squad. Left back remains a bit of a question mark for this team as they used two trialists, Lo Presti and Raheem Edwards, during the preseason but with Lo Presti gone it might just be Edward's position to lose as the lone trailist still with the team after the trip to Florida.
The midfield will be built around some of the Toronto FC's home grown signings as Chris Mannella and Manuel Aparicio will make up the core of the team's spine this season. Luca Uccello also seems set to be a regular for TFCII with the team looking to continue his rise up the ranks from the academy. He could very well be the youngest contributor to this team having been born in 1997.
The midfield will also be bolstered by an addition that has come since the team return from Florida. TFCII could get a big boost down the left side from the addition of former FC Edmonton midfielder/forward Massimo Mirabelli. The 23-year-old saw limited minutes for the NASL side last season before being released this winter but he could prove to be a nice addition to a very young TFCII side give he will be one of a select few players on this team with a few years of professional experience under his belt.
The final squad should be stacked with attacking options as well with Jordan Hamilton likely to carry the bulk of the scoring load. He won't be alone though with academy players Mark-Anthony Kaye and Molham Babouli set to sign for the USL team and both capable of finding the back as well as filling a number of different roles for the team. Add in draft picks Sal Bernal, Michael Ramos, and Edwin Rivas who should all be on the team and you have plenty of attacking options. The final trialist from preseason, Kenny Doublette, is no longer with the team.
What is clear is that this roster is going to be built around the talent that Toronto FC already had within the organization. There will be some spots for players coming through the draft but the bulk of the team is going to be made up of guys that have risen up through the academy ranks.
Taking this approach may mean that the club is not competing for USL championships on an annual basis but that was never supposed to be the goal of TFCII. Instead, they will field what should be a fairly competitive team without losing focus on the main goal which is to prepare players for the first team should they get that opportunity down the road.
The official announcement of the roster could come as early as today (Thursday) and we will keep you update when any further information becomes available.