TORONTO - Toronto FC has announced that the club has signed 2020 MLS SuperDraft first round pick Ifunanyachi Achara to a first team deal Friday afternoon.
Achara has been one of the stories of the preseason for the Reds, scoring three times in four appearances. Considering his play of late and the proximity of the regular season, the timing of the deal makes sense for both sides and gives TFC some creative depth moving forward.
The 22-year-old Nigerian native is coming off an injury riddled season with Georgetown University, one which saw him captain his side to a NCAA Division I title. In 11 starts for his school, he directly contributed to 11 goals (six goals, five assists.)
Injuries have been a big part of the early stages of Achara’s career, sitting out extended periods of time during his four years at Georgetown. Concerns over his health impacted his stock ahead of the draft, which begins to explain how he fell to Toronto at 25th overall.
For a team that often lacked creativity in the early stages of last season, particularly out wide, Achara has the potential to be a great fit for TFC assuming he can stay fit.
Following a strong performance against LAFC back on February 12th, which included a tidy chipped finish, head coach Greg Vanney expressed to the media what he’s like about Achara’s game to date.
“He’s a smart player, moves nicely with the ball, he’s not afraid of any situations, got himself in transition today and a cheeky little finish there at the end,” Vanney said. He’s been a nice addition to the group and we’ll see as we continue to progress through these games what kind of role we can play for us going forward.”
The last player taken by Toronto in the SuperDraft who has made significant contributions to the first team is forward Tsubasa Endoh. Endoh was selected ninth overall by TFC back in 2016 and signed just ahead of that same season. The Japanese native spent parts of the next couple seasons between the main squad and TFC II before breaking out into a big role with the first team in 2019. Vanney and Co. will likely be hoping Achara can find similar success in the future, perhaps in quicker fashion than Endoh.
Achara also has previous connections with Toronto FC teammates as he attended Berkshire high school in Sheffield, Massachusetts alongside Reds winger Jacob Shaffelburg.
Shaffelburg was one of the surprise stories of 2019 for TFC and his fellow Berkshire alumni looks to be on the right track to do the same this year.
Expect to hear Achara’s name called at some point during the season at BMO Field. Who knows, you may even be able to spell his name right by the end of it!