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Toronto FC select left-back Matt Di Rosa in the first round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft

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After trading down in the first round, TFC decided to shore up their defence with the 25th overall selection.

Toronto FC’s newest draft pick Matt Di Rosa dribbles with the ball representing the University of Maryland.
(MLS)

TORONTO, Canada—Potentially addressing an immediate need on their roster, Toronto FC drafted left-back Matt Di Rosa out of the University of Maryland in the first round of the 2021 MLS SuperDraft Thursday afternoon.

The 22-year-old Di Rosa, a native of Washington D.C., is a twin along with brother Ben, who was selected one pick before TFC’s second-rounder by New York City FC. The duo appear to be very close, adding another potential layer to an already rampant NYCFC-Toronto FC rivalry.

A winger converted to a left-back, Matt Di Rosa started all 21 games for the University of Maryland last season, and was a key piece during their 2018 national championship run. Travis Clark of MLSSoccer.com had Matt Di Rosa listed in his column: 2021 MLS SuperDraft: 5 players ready to make an immediate impact. Here’s what he had to say:

Just like Gasper, a left back from Maryland drafted in 2019, Di Rosa may not have a huge ceiling or a ton of upside. But he has the tools to be a serviceable option, doing what’s required of a modern fullback: getting into the attacking and creating chances, plus putting in the work defensively. Expect to see him picked somewhere in the mid-first round and start 2021 as a backup who can compete for a starting role as the season progresses.

Toronto FC currently have no natural left-backs on their roster following the expiration of veteran defender Justin Morrow’s contract and loan deal for Liverpool’s Tony Gallacher. As such, if he can crack the roster, Di Rosa will be primed to compete for minutes right away.

The Reds entered the draft holding the 18th overall selection, however, after taking a time out while on the clock, elected to ship their pick to Minnesota United in exchange for the 25th overall selection and $50,000 in General Allocation Money.

While $50k is the least amount of allocation money you can trade, it’s a smart bit of business for TFC, especially considering most picks around that range are a gamble and that the team doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility this offseason, so any little bit helps.

It’s also worth considering that moments before making the deal, New York City FC traded the 17th overall pick to Minnesota in exchange for $50,000 in GAM and $25,000 in conditional GAM. The Reds dropping down just seven spots in exchange for the $50K in comparison seems like TFC got a better deal.

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship
Nathaniel Crofts #10 of the Virginia Cavaliers dribbles the ball against the Georgetown Hoyas during the Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.
Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Toronto FC were then back on the clock at pick No. 45, opting to select 24-year-old right-winger Nathaniel Crofts from the University of Virgina. Listed as a forward, Crofts graduated through the Sheffield United academy in England before making the move overseas to Virgina in 2017 to attend university and continue playing soccer.

Based off nothing but a few highlights, TFC may have a good one here, but Crofts would occupy an international roster spot on their roster, should he be able to crack it.

Toronto FC drafted next at No. 64, selecting 21-year-old winger/forward Paul Rothrock out of the University of Georgetown, the same school Achara was chosen from a year ago. The two were teammates during Rothrock’s sophomore year.

The club then rounded out the SuperDraft by choosing 22-year-old defender Jon-Talen Maples 72nd overall out of Southern Methodist University, a private school in Texas.

“Each player that we selected today has different talents. We have an intensely competitive and deep first team. We’re looking forward to the players coming in to train and compete for an opportunity,,” Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis told TorontoFC.ca. “Matt Di Rosa is a left back who was an important player on an NCAA championship team at Maryland. Nathaniel Crofts Jr. is a versatile attacking player who was a four-year starter on a very good team at Virginia. Paul Rothrock is another versatile player who won a national championship at Georgetown and Talen Maples is a strong defender who was a leader of his team at Southern Methodist University. We are looking forward to getting these players integrated into our club to see how they can compete at the professional level.”