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Who we Were (Part 5): Mark Bloom

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Started in Georgia, and finished in Georgia.

MLS: Playoffs-Toronto FC at New York City FC Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Bloom had an interesting soccer career that led him to Toronto FC. He wasn’t drafted to MLS, and instead he came to the league the hard way. He spent his college career playing for Berry Vikings, and he also played for the likes of Atlanta Silverbacks and Southern California Sea Horses during his college career as well. He signed his first professional contract with A.C. Saint Louis in 2010, and then continued to play out his career for Charlotte Eagles and Atlanta Silverbacks (this time with their first team instead of their U-23 team).

Then Toronto FC came calling. On July 12, 2013, Mark Bloom was signed on loan to add some defensive depth for TFC down the right flank, and soon, just six games into his TFC career, the club exercised his contract option, meaning that he would sign permanently for the Reds.

Bloom was not a wingback by any means for TFC. He was more of a defensive right-back who did his job, and did it pretty well. He wasn’t absolutely outstanding, but he was a decent option in the right-back position, and he had pretty good defensive skills to go along with his defensive playing style.

Toronto FC v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In 2014, Bloom was the generally the main right-back, only competing with on-loan defender Bradley Orr for the starting position. He racked up 26 games (all of them were starts) for TFC, getting a total of 2290 minutes on the field. Unfortunately in 2014, Toronto FC’s defence was very leaky, and as a result they finished with one of the worst defensive records in the league in that season. Regardless, Bloom was pretty consistently decent in every game. Later on in the season against the Portland Timbers, Mark Bloom suffered a horrible injury which put him out for the rest of the season. This injury didn’t just last until the end of the 2014 season; it left him on the season-ending disabled list for the 2015 season.

In his return to the team in 2016, he was already starting to be phased out of the team, as more defensive depth was brought in because the right back position was so ‘thin’ in depth the year before. He only played 339 minutes in 2016, as new signing Steven Beitashour had already taken over his position and proven to be an upgrade on Bloom.

On December 13, 2016, the MLS Expansion draft took place for Minnesota United and Atlanta United. In the third round of the expansion draft, goalkeeper Clint Irwin was selected by Atlanta. The Toronto FC front office wanted to keep Irwin, though, so they traded Mark Bloom to Atlanta along with additional General Allocation Money. Mark Bloom, who started his soccer career in Georgia, was set to end his career in Georgia; he finally returned home.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2017 season, he only played two games for Atlanta United before having his option declined at the end of the season.

Interestingly enough, at the age of 30 years-old, he retired as he wanted to move on to pursue a job in financial advising, as he already had a job lined up for it. A big reason for this was that although he did want to continue his professional soccer career, he was struggling to find an MLS team to move to. He went on trial with Vancouver Whitecaps, but things didn’t work out. He did consider signing with a USL team, but weighed the options of making less money and having to move across the country with his family and decided against the decision, as he told John Molinaro of Sportsnet.

Known as one of the nicest guys on TFC, players were sad to see him go, and he was widely regarded as a very down-to-earth person who was very nice to everyone.

Was his career with Toronto FC a success? I would say it was. He wasn’t the most outstanding player, and had a fair amount of struggles, but overall when he did play he played quite decently, and overall accomplished his defensive job quite well.

It certainly is interesting to see how long it took his career to really kick off at the professional level, and is even more interesting to see that he decided to retire earlier just to take up a profession in financial advising — it really is a testament to the American/Canadian sports system as he was able to pursue his dream in soccer while still getting a good education.