Jayden Nelson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty have been named to the 2022 MLS 22 Under 22 list, placing 20th and 22nd respectively.
The young Canadian duo were more involved with the Toronto FC first team in 2022 than in any other year as they continue to establish themselves within the senior squad.
Deandre Kerr and Kosi Thompson, who both made their TFC debuts in 2022, did not make the final list despite being eligible.
Having only made 15 first team appearances ahead of the 2022 campaign, Nelson became a regular in Bob Bradley’s first season in charge of the Reds, featuring 33 times as of September 20th.
The 19-year-old also bagged his first senior goal for the club in spectacular fashion. With TFC down 2-1 with less than 15 minutes to go against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, Nelson’s ambitious effort from distance found its way past a helpless Zac MacMath for the Reds’ equalizer.
“It’s definitely something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, and I’ll remember,” said Nelson after opening his Toronto FC account.
A natural winger, Nelson has also been deployed in central midfield on multiple occasions in 2022, a role which has seen him steadily blossom into a more well-rounded player.
“He [Nelson] continues to impress me in the midfield,” said teammate Ayo Akinola, who was TFC’s sole representative on the 2021 22 Under 22 list.
“He’s still reliable on the ball, still threatening when he can dribble, beat guys, and take advantage of his opportunities. I’m very happy for him.”
In 33 appearances in all competitions, Nelson has recorded four goal contributions (one goal, three assists). Still only 19 years of age, Nelson’s future for both club and country is one many will have their eyes on for the next several seasons.
Marshall-Rutty, who at 15 years of age became the youngest player in TFC history to sign for the first team, has made 17 appearances (as of September 20th, 2022) in all competitions so far this season. After featuring in the Reds’ first four games of the campaign, TFC’s No. 7 suffered a knee injury that ruled him out for three months.
Since returning to the side, Marshall-Rutty has started just one game, playing the full 90 in TFC’s goalless draw with the New England Revolution on July 30th.
The TFC faithful will continue to wonder how different Marshall-Rutty’s season could have been if he never sustained that knee injury, but nonetheless, the 18-year-old has seemingly done enough to attract the attention of some notable names in world football.
Club Brugge had talks for Toronto FC's rising Canadian int'l Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, per source. Nothing will happen today on deadline day, but Brugge very keen on him.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) September 1, 2022
Marshall-Rutty, 18, trained with Liverpool and Arsenal in the winter. Big talent. One to watch. pic.twitter.com/k3hT1SvTDF
During the 2022 offseason, the youngster trained with English Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as Club Brugge, who reportedly held talks for the Toronto native over the summer.
Fans can likely expect more clarity on Marshall-Rutty’s future in the coming months.