A glance at the 2017 USL standings might have given the impression that TFC II, the youthful top reserve team of Toronto FC, would require a touch more experience in their ranks for the 2018 campaign.
If the released list published by the Reds on Monday is anything to go by, club management has decided the opposite is true.
TFC II have announced that captain Mitch Taintor (age 23), Anthony Osorio (23), Brian James (24), Jordan McCrary (24) and Ricardo John (22) will not be offered new contracts.
None of those players could be described as veterans in most contexts but they were on this team, with only two outfield players and goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo, who has signed a new deal, age 22 or over on the roster for next year.
Perhaps Toronto will go shopping for some older help over the winter, but it seems unlikely beyond one or two additions. Instead, they look to be doubling down on what they see as the primary purpose of TFC II: to develop players for the first team, rather than to win in the USL.
The hope, of course, is that they can eventually achieve both but the former takes priority. This year, TFC II finished last in the Eastern Conference.
Despite a Canadian Championship start for Taintor, it was difficult to see any of the released players making the grade with Greg Vanney’s first team. Among those with a better chance are the likes of Liam Fraser - who, along with Malik Johnson, has had his option picked up - and Aidan Daniels, who has been re-signed. Both are 19 and Fraser, especially, will be handed a leadership role next term.
Luca Uccello is in talks over a new deal and Lars Eckenrode and Brandon Onkony will be invited to training camp unsigned.
Julian Dunn, Rocco Romeo, Jelani Peters, Noble Okello, Shaan Hundal and Aikim Andrews were already under contract for 2018. That leaves TFC II with an 11-man squad when first-team depth players such as Sergio Camargo and Tsubasa Endoh are not counted.