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Toronto FC Smart to Be Cycling Players Through USL Affiliate

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Game time is important at the professional level, and Toronto FC is finally starting to use their USL side to make sure their depth players get more.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Hamilton, Jay Chapman and Quillan Roberts are just the latest players to be sent down to Toronto FC 2. The club announced today that the trio will join the USL affiliate ahead Sunday's game against FC Cincinnati. Alex Bono and Eriq Zavaleta, meanwhile, will be available for tomorrow's senior team match against the Montreal Impact.

Since Toronto FC II opened their season, a number of players have cycled through the team. The club's season opener against New York Red Bulls II saw Mark Bloom and Mo Babouli join the ranks. Last match, their home opener against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Toronto FC sent down Nick Hagglund and Zavaleta as defensive re-enforcements.

Toronto FC rarely did this last season, and it was part of the reason why TFC II lost 17 of their 28 inaugural USL season games. This year, they appear to have learned: cycling players, especially those who are young, through the senior and USL teams will only benefit both sides.

The benefits will be two-fold. The senior team will have more players at their disposal who have recently been game tested. With the lack of roster rotation, largely a good thing, in this year's senior side giving the bench players some games is vital.

Between them, the players who have been sent down from Toronto FC to Toronto FC II this season have played 122 senior team minutes. The majority of those have come from Babouli, while Chapman earned 29 minutes against D.C. United last week. They could certainly use 90 minutes at a professional level, even if it is a lower level, to stay fresh.

The second benefit is obvious: it makes Toronto FC II a more competitive side. The club is undefeated through the first three games of the season, with a pair of draws and a victory. The strong start to the season is in no small part due to help from the senior team.

Babouli was dominant in a 2-2 draw with Red Bulls II to start the season, getting an assist. Hagglund scored the opener in last weekend's 2-2 draw with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.

Hagglund will stay with Toronto FC II for this weekend's match, and will be joined by three other teammates. Fresh off his first minutes for Toronto FC of the season, Jay Chapman will give the USL side a huge boost in the midfield.

After a strong preseason, Jordan Hamilton has yet to break into the senior lineup this year. Getting a runout at the USL level will give him a chance to prove that he should be in the club's plans when Altidore and Giovinco are off on international duty.

Roberts, meanwhile, has spent the start of the season backing up Clint Irwin who doesn't look like he will give up the net anytime soon. The plan from the start of the season was always to cycle Roberts and Bono through the senior and USL sides. Roberts was given first go with the senior side because he beat out Bono in pre-season.

The club won't always have the luxury of sending players up and down, especially during the summer months when the roster gets tight. However, while the season is still young for both clubs it is a smart strategy and one that will pay dividends in the long run.