Toronto FC II have announced the first eight signings in the club's history. The team is less than two weeks away from opening the USL season against the Charleston Battery which means that the remainder of the roster will have to come together quickly. For now though we know what the core of the roster will look like.
The team announced that they have signed five of Toronto FC's picks from this years MLS SuperDraft. Skylar Thomas, Clement Simonin, Wesley Charpie, Edwin Rivas, and Sal Bernal will all begin their professional careers with the USL team. They will be joined by a trio of players making the jump from the academy ranks to the professional ranks as Mark-Anthony Kaye, Molham Babouli, and Luca Uccello have all agreed deals with the team.
The group of eight signings will be complimented by several players being sent down on loan from the senior team. The likes of Manny Aparicio, Quillan Roberts, Jordan Hamilton, Chris Mannella, and Alex Bono could all spend extended periods of time in USL this season.
Odds are the team will have to make a few more signings to fill out the roster before the start of the season but for now fans at least have a good sense of what the final product is going to look like. It is a team that thus far has been completely built with players who were already in the club and it will be very heavy on Canadian content.
Clement Simonin: The 23-year-old central defender was one of the more surprising selections in the SuperDraft as Toronto FC went way off the board to grab him ninth overall. The French defender impressed in preseason with his composure on the ball and his ability to play out of pressure. The North Carolina State alumni should be counted on to be a rock at the back for this team.
Skylar Thomas: The Canadian CB come out of Syracuse with some question marks about his game but a year in USL could give him the time he needs to add a bit of strength to his already impressive frame. The 21-year-old was taken 11th overall in the draft earlier this year and is one for the future if he can add a few more tools to his raw talent. Expect him to be a mainstay in the middle of the back for TFCII this season.
Wesley Charpie: Coming out of the University of South Florida the 22-year-old was one of the top rated right backs available in the draft this year. TFC snapped him up at 29th overall and could have found a bit of a steal at that point in the draft. Charpie has all the tools you want in an MLS defender just needs to add some polish to his game and get used to the demands of the professional game. A year of starting games in USL on a regular basis should be great for him.
Edwin Rivas: Coming out of Cal State Northridge the 23-year-old Rivas was another selection that raised a few eyebrows. Injuries really derailed his senior year which resulted in him falling off the radar for a number of teams. TFC took a chance on him at 37th and he did enough in preseason to reward that faith and earn a contract. He is capable of playing at forward but may find himself spending more time in the midfield at the pro level.
Sal Bernal: The 22-year-old forward should be counted on to help carry the scoring load for TFCII this season. He found the back of the net on a consistent basis in preseason showing that his numbers with UNLV were no fluke. The 70th overall pick would likely have been released in the past but with the existence of TFCII he will now get an extended chance to show that he can do more than just score goals.
Molham Babouli: Anyone who has followed Toronto FC Academy or Sheridan in recent years will know one thing about Babouli. It is clear that he can find the back of the net and knows how to make the most of his chances. The question for the 22-year-old is how much more he can add to his game. He is unlikely to be leading the line for TFCII this season so the pressure will be on him to do more than just score goals if he is asked to play in more of a midfield role.
Mark-Anthony Kaye: The 20-year-old can play up and down the wing and covers a whole lot of ground. He impressed in his time with Wilmington last summer even scoring his first professional goal and will look to build on that in 2015. Kaye brings a lot of energy to the game and causes opponents headaches on both sides of the ball.
Luca Uccello: The youngest player on the team at just 17-years-old, Uccello has risen quickly through the ranks of TFC Academy. He was one of the top players in L1O last summer and is widely considered to be one of the top young talents in the club's system. It will be interesting to see what he can do against much older competition on a regular basis as he has excelled at every level up to this point despite playing well above his own age level most of that time.