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Who TFC Were: Canadian Molham Babouli destined for CanPL?

A man with an unconventional journey in soccer, where is the former TFC striker now?

MLS: Toronto FC at New York Red Bulls
May 28, 2016; Harrison, NJ, USA; Toronto FC forward Mo Babouli (11) carries the ball against the New York Red Bulls.
(Carchietta/USA TODAY)

Back in 2016, Toronto FC were in need of some depth signings to help with the creativity up front and on the wings. Instead of looking elsewhere for a new face, TFC looked within, to their newly formed reserve team, Toronto FC II, signing 23 year-old Canadian in Molham Babouli.

Despite the Reds having a reputation for having a really deep attack back in the day, they actually didn’t have many options at the time of his signing (in terms of attacking players), besides star strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. At the start of the season, really, the only backup striker they had was young Canadian Jordan Hamilton; that’s why Babouli was brought in on Mar. 12, 2016.

Prior to signing with the first team, Babouli had been playing okay (at least on paper) for TFC’s reserve team, scoring four goals and getting about the same amount of assists over the course of the 2015 USL Season.

Mo Babouli with the finish at the top of the box (2016)

Oirginally born in UAE, like many youngsters, Babouli started on the bench for the first few games while vying for his chance with the first team—a chance he received just three matches into the season, subbing on to play against Sporting Kansas City in late March. Since Toronto FC had such a lack of depth in offensive positions at the time, he was able to get his chance early on in his career.

He would continue to get subbed on in some games and start others, while making a decent enough impact in the offensive end to continue to earn chances. He and Jordan Hamilton were getting their time split so that each player had a chance to show their qualities. Babouli struggled to actually get assists or goals early on, until he eventually notched his first assist against New York City FC in May of that season. This single assist was not a sign of things to come, as that would be the only assist that he would get during his stint with Toronto FC.

Veteran-Canadian striker Tosaint Ricketts would later sign midway through the season, which really marked the end of Babouli getting a significant amount of chances with the first team as Ricketts was clearly the preferred and better option in the attack. Babouli was kept through the offseason at the end of the year, but was later waived on April 21, 2017, making no appearances in his short second season with the club. The TFC front office seemed to be very excited about the prospects of another young striker at the time, in Ben Spencer, who was the player who replaced Babouli.

To be honest, Babouli was better than his stats may present him as. He was a creative striker/winger who was able to create chances for the rest of the team. He was actually able to contribute a decent amount to the attack, but most of his contributions didn’t show on paper. I would say most people who watched him would think that he was a good player, but would think he didn’t really seem to have as much potential as other youngsters like Jordan Hamilton at the time. He also really seemed to lack a real sharp attacking edge that top young attacking prospects with the club (like Ayo Akinola nowadays) have.

So where did Molham go? He’s had quite an unconventional journey since leaving TFC.

Instead of moving to the second division of US/Canadian soccer (at the time) in the USL, he went on to play for Sigma FC of League1 Ontario where he scored five goals in six games. Then oddly enough, he moved to Syria to play for Al-Ittihad in Aleppo where he scored seven goals in 25 games in his one season with them. Keep in mind he played for them during the Syrian Civil War, which is still ongoing today. While I met many Syrian refugees fleeing a country that was so war torn, Molham Babouli moved there, and was playing pro-soccer in the midst of war. If you ask me, that’s a bit of an odd career choice to me.

To people familiar with Benedict Rhodes’ coverage of the (now defunct) Mississauga Metrostars last year, Molham Babouli was one of their star players last season, scoring 21 goals in just 22 games. Since leaving them, he’s started playing in the semi-pro Canadian Soccer League (not to be confused with the Canadian Premier League), with FC Ukraine United.

Ever since the Canadian Premier League has been around, there has been much speculation around the idea of Babouli potentially moving to one of those teams, but nothing has came to fruition yet. Even with Babouli’s ties to Sigma FC, the former team of Forge FC’s (the Hamilton CanPL team) manager, Bobby Smyrniotis, he still hasn’t gotten a contract with a team in the league. With all of this being said, there is a good chance he may be playing in the Canadian Premier League in the 2020 season with York9 FC, as there have been reports suggesting that he has been to some of York9’s training facilities, and may train with them once their preseason starts in a little bit. We’ll have to see how that will plan out.

Babouli was a neat player to have while he was at Toronto FC, definitely adding some needed creativity to the attack, but struggled to improve with an improving squad. This resulted in him finding himself out of a contract come mid-2017. He was a good player to have while we had him, but it was ultimately a good choice to move on from him given the amazing squad we had in 2017. Hopefully he can find a contract professionally, because he definitely has the quality to earn one with a team.