When Jacob Shaffelburg’s loan to Nashville SC was announced on Tuesday, there was mixed initial reaction to the move in the TFC universe.
While some were happy for the player to get another opportunity to find playing time, others were mad that Toronto FC had seemingly squandered the development of an Academy product.
NEWS | Toronto FC announced today that the club has loaned winger Jacob Shaffelburg to @NashvilleSC through 2022.— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) August 2, 2022
There are a couple of things wrong with that assessment. While it’s true this is an Academy product heading out the door to another club:
A) Toronto FC just signed Lorenzo Insigne to play in Jacob Shaffelburg’s position for the next four years, and they’re paying him A LOT to do that. Shaffelburg’s potential playing time just evaporated.
B) As a soon to be 23-year-old, Shaffelburg has played in 47 matches, starting 26, and played 2370 minutes in MLS. During that time he has three (3) goals and six (6) assists to his name.
C) After a promising 2021 season, and with a real opportunity to earn minutes on a weak TFC team, Shaffelburg struggled to make an impact this season, being passed over by Deandre Kerr and Luca Petrasso among others for starting roles.
D) Shaffelburg completed just 69.1% of his passes this season. Only Jordan Perruzza is worse amongst outfield players. He has also completed just three crosses this year. Insigne has four, and Domenico Criscito has nine and the two of them have fewer combined. (Deandre Kerr has no completed crosses, but that’s an article for another day).
The point is, it wasn’t working for J-Shaff in Toronto this year, and his clock is ticking. He needs to be somewhere where he’s going to play, and as long as Insigne is healthy, TFC is not that place. If he can recapture some of that 2021 spark in Nashville, great. Nashville has the option to purchase his contract if everything goes well, which would mean a greater return for TFC (good) and that Shaffelburg is playing well (good).
As for the “Toronto FC don’t develop players well/at all” line of thinking, there have been 12 Toronto FC academy products STARTING games for the big club this year. There have been ample opportunities for players to showcase their skills this year and in years past before. Some players grasp those opportunities, others don’t. That’s just the nature of the beast.
Toronto FC are providing Shaffelburg with an opportunity to continue to grow his career, in a move that doesn’t hurt the club. Shaffelburg now has the opportunity to seize more playing time and make a positive impression.
I think we all hope he does.