As Toronto FC preseason neared its end, it seemed as if Tsubasa Endoh and Mo Babouli were in competition for the final spot on the roster. Now, after creating roster spots by waiving Herculez Gomez and Luke Moore and trading Collen Warner to the Houston Dynamo Toronto FC have room to keep both.
Tsubasa Endoh was signed late last month after fitting perfectly into Toronto's news system during preseason. He could even be in the starting lineup when the club open their season against the New York Red Bulls tomorrow. Now it appears Mo Babouli will be joining him on the senior team roster, a move long expected by media.
Anthony Totera of Red Card Radio is reporting that Babouli has senior team deal with Toronto FC. The deal comes just a day before the start of the 2016 MLS season, and is likely the club's last move of the offseason.
Babouli's rise to the MLS level has happened quickly, after considering quitting professional soccer just a few years ago. However, he would be spotted by Toronto FC academy and offered a contract which would begin his journey to the senior team.
In his first season with Toronto FC academy, Babouli would win League 1 Ontario's MVP and Golden Boot while scoring 21 league goals. In the space of a year he had gone from relative anonymity to one of the most promising prospects at the club.
Last year, he would join Toronto FC II for their inaugural season in USL. While the team struggled to play up to the competition of the new level, Babouli still managed to have a strong year. He would score 4 goals and 4 assists in 20 games, while also representing Canada at the Pan Am Games and Olympic qualifiers.
Nonetheless, at 23 years of age he was older than most academy players, and as a result this preseason was seen as his last real chance to demonstrate his first team quality. Clearly, he has impressed as an attacking threat down the wing, scoring three goals during preseason and creating several more chances.
Babouli will likely split the year between the senior team and Toronto FC II, but could be crucial depth in the summer when TFC lose their star power to international tournaments. He brings a creativity and attacking ability that could make him a good option off the bench if the team needs some offense late in a game.
The club will likely announce the deal as official later today as they finalize their roster for 2016. Don't expect Babouli to see any time against the New York Red Bulls, but with an injury to Jozy Altidore it isn't out of the question.