Toronto FC II may have a new look centre-back pairing when they open their home schedule on Sunday at the Ontario Soccer Centre. The MLS side has loaned Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta to their USL affiliate, who will take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at 4 p.m. eastern.
After a strong rookie season with Toronto FC, Hagglund has played sparingly since Greg Vanney took over as manager. The 23-year-old has not played a single minute so far this season. In his three-year MLS career, the defender has played in 37 games and has four assists in that time.
Vanney's nephew, Eriq Zavaleta, has fallen down the depth chart with the offseason acquisition of Drew Moor. He also has yet to make an appearance for the team this year, only making the bench once. Zavaleta was a fairly regular member of the Toronto FC side last year, appearing in 18 matches and scoring once.
The move will give the pair some game experience and keep them prepared in case one of the starters is injured, suspended or falls out of form. There is also the potential that this move could have been made to showcase one or both to potential trade partners.
It is no secret that Toronto FC is looking to shed some salary, as the are incredibly close to the salary cap ceiling making it difficult to sign new players. Tosaint Ricketts has been training with Toronto FC II, with the intention of signing him for the senior team. Moving out a player would likely allow the club to sign him.
Regardless, the pair will give Toronto FC II a nice boost at the back ahead of this weekend's match. Toronto FC II is undefeated through two games to start the season and are in good form after a 2-1 win over rival FC Montreal. The Riverhounds, on the other hand, lost their season opener 1-0 to the Rochester Rhinos.