The writing was on the wall for Mo Babouli.
After having his preseason interrupted by an injury, the Canadian has played no part in any of Toronto FC or TFC II’s games so far and had fallen to fifth among forwards on the depth chart.
He was really sixth, in effect, since Greg Vanney has publicly stated his desire to bring Ben Spencer on to the first-team roster as a backup for Jozy Altidore.
Babouli’s release on Friday may give Toronto the flexibility they require to do that.
At 24, Babouli can no longer really be considered a young player with significant upside and if he was not going to play this season - and he clearly wasn’t, at least with the first team - it is better for all concerned that he seeks a fresh start.
The big positive is that a player who has enjoyed a rapid rise from League1 Ontario to an MLS contract over the past three years now has a legitimate chance of carving out a professional career, whether that be elsewhere in MLS, the USL or NASL or the upcoming Canadian Premier League.
While it is always disappointing to see a Canadian player released, that should be remembered.
Babouli is a skilful, creative player and showed flashes of talent in MLS and the Canadian Championship, but struggled to turn his ability into consistent, meaningful production last season. In the end, Jordan Hamilton - who is three years his junior - showed more of an eye for goal and the arrival of Tosaint Ricketts pushed him further down the pecking order.
Toronto now have four open slots on their first-team roster. Two are on the 20-man senior list, with one apiece on the supplemental and reserve groups.