One of the most captivating stories over the Canadian Premier League's short history has been if (or when) former Toronto FC forward Mo Babouli will join a CPL club. Today we have an answer.
Babouli will be playing for Forge FC in 2020, after agreeing a contract with the Hamilton-based side. Although a shortened season, dubbed "The Island Games", the North Star Shield is still on the line, and this is a big signing as Forge FC look to retain their title. If they weren't already, I think this cements Forge's spot as the best team in the league on paper.
He's been training with the side since June, and after being spotted last week, the move is now official.
Now 27 years old, Babouli joined the Toronto FC Academy in 2014 before working his way up to the first team. He scored 27 goals in 22 games for Toronto FC III in the 2014 League 1 Ontario season before being promoted to TFC II for 2015. After another strong campaign he made the MLS club in 2016, where he'd make 20 appearances in all competitions before leaving the club prior to the start of the 2017 season.
In 2017, he joined current Forge FC Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis at the renowned Sigma FC in Mississauga and will now reunite with his former gaffer.
Sigma, founded in 2005, has produced some of Canada's best talents, including Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea, and last year's CPL MVP Tristan Borges. Many of the current Forge players played for Sigma prior to the 2019 CPL season.
Babouli scored five times in seven games for Sigma before moving to Syria and joining Al-Ittihad. In 28 matches in all competitions, he found the back of the net eight times before returning to Canada.
After returning to Canada, Babouli was apparently unable to move to another club thanks to a contract dispute with the Syrian side and instead joined the Mississauga MetroStars of the Major Arena Soccer League. In 22 games for the MetroStars, he contributed 21 goals and 15 assists for 36 points, and won the MASL’s 2018-19 Newcomer of the Year Award. Long-time readers of Waking the Red may remember the MetroStars coverage on the site that regularly sang his praises.
Congratulations to our Mo Babouli who was today honoured with the @MASLarena Newcomer of the Year Award! We are very proud of Mo and all his accomplishments in our expansion season! #MetroStars #arenasoccer #rulethearena pic.twitter.com/X0X5POFLVD— MetroStars Canada (@metrostarsCan) May 4, 2019
After that, Babouli joined FC Ukraine United in the semi-pro Canadian Soccer League, likely still unable to officially leave Al-Ittihad. He tore up that league, scoring 11 goals in 7 appearances between the regular season and playoffs.
Now, he’s moved onto the Canadian Premier League, in my opinion the best move for him, and the one that many people expected him to make in 2019. How will he fare in 2020?