As a member of Toronto FC’s historic treble-winning 2017 side, Raheem Edwards’ Major League Soccer career began at the pinnacle.
Where hardware helps illustrate Edwards’ early years with TFC, hardships have defined his story ever since his departure from the Reds three years ago.
His time with his hometown club abruptly came to an end when he was selected fifth overall by LAFC in the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft, ultimately getting traded to the Montreal Impact before ever donning the black and gold.
Speed to burn— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) January 30, 2020
Most Toronto FC fans felt his time with the club was too short after being taken in the 2017 @MLS Expansion Draft, but what has Mississauga-native @Rvheem_ been up to since?#TFCLive | : @Pamanci11 https://t.co/3S3mAjtthZ
Since then, the only constant for Edwards has been change. He played just a half-season in Montreal before being traded to the Chicago Fire in July of 2018, where he’d spend two injury-riddled campaigns in the windy city.
While he reflects upon his time in Toronto with fondness, he admits going from MLS Cup champion to non-playoff clubs created personal challenges in the next chapters of his career.
“Obviously my career after Toronto has been very, very difficult,” said Edwards during a phone interview. “It’s not easy to come from a team like TFC and go to Montreal, then Chicago where they hadn’t really—and I’m not trying to disrespect the teams or anything—but they haven’t really found their winning ways yet and they haven’t found playoffs or second round of the playoffs, instead they’re pushing towards that and it’s pretty difficult.”
Ahead of the 2020 season, Edwards was dealt by the Fire to Minnesota United in exchange for defender Wyatt Omsberg. With the Loons finishing fourth in the Western Conference in 2019, a move to Minnesota is one Edwards is embracing early on, with aspirations for a fresh start and winning in mind.
“It’s really good to be in Minnesota, kind of rejuvenating in a sense,” said Edwards. “I feel like this club and this team is at the cusp, they have a winning mentality and I think they’re primed for doing great things here.”
Minnesota was hot out of the gate to begin 2020, winning their first two matches while scoring eight times in the process. Edwards managed to make his MNUFC debut as a substitute in the dying minutes of their 5-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes back in March before the season came to a halt just days later.
If and when MLS is given the green light to resume a season in some fashion, the 24-year-old Mississauga native knows exactly what he’s aiming for.
“For me, it’s pretty plain and simple, get as many minutes as I can,” said Edwards. “Obviously I want to start, I think I can start and contribute here (in Minnesota), but I have to show that. I’m working hard every day and hopefully I can translate that onto the pitch.”
The hope for earning consistent minutes comes as Edwards looks to once again find his feet not only for club, but for country.
After being named to Canada’s 2017 Gold Cup squad as a 21-year-old back in 2017, he’s made just four appearances internationally and was omitted from the 23 man group chosen to represent the Red and White at last summer’s competition.
For Canadian head coach John Herdman, those hoping to be selected for the men’s national team need to be playing in meaningful matches on a regular basis, a mindset shared by Edwards.
“I think that’s the most important thing,” Edwards said on the importance of getting on the pitch for his club. “I was with him (Herdman) the first time he coached the men’s side back in March 2018 in Spain, and he stressed the importance of regular minutes, and I agree with him, guys need to be playing, you can’t be calling up guys who haven’t been playing in months and expect results.”
While Edwards admits more minutes are needed in order to make his case to Herdman and Co. for selection, he’s confident he still has the ability to represent his country on the big stage.
“I think I deserve to be on the National Team,” said Edwards. “and I’m going to try to do my best to get back there through my actions, not just talk about it... I want to do it on the field, I’m ready to show not just Canada, but the world, and all of MLS what I’m capable of doing.”