Toronto FC announced Thursday that the club has successfully acquired the rights to a USL PRO franchise. In addition, the club has named Jason Bent as the head coach of the new USL PRO team.
“Today marks an important day in the history of Toronto FC. Having our own USL PRO side is crucial in the development of our players. We saw several benefits from our partnership with Wilmington last season and we are pleased to now have our own side here in Toronto,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "I’d also like to congratulate Jason Bent on being named head coach of the USL PRO team. Jason has been and remains an important part of our staff at Toronto FC and we felt this role would be perfect for him, as we move players from our academy into the USL PRO team and then onto our first team. Jason is familiar with all levels of our structure at TFC.”
Toronto FC becomes the sixth MLS club to own a USL PRO team and the eleventh expansion side set to begin play in 2015. With the addition of the Toronto USL PRO team, Toronto FC’s official partnership with Wilmington Hammerheads FC has ended.
“First and foremost we must thank MLSE for the continued support and commitment to Toronto FC. I’d also like to thank the front office for the opportunity to continue my development as a coach,” said Toronto USL PRO Head Coach Jason Bent. "I feel this pathway will help us bridge the gap between the academy and first team level and enable some talented young men, especially Canadian players to really learn their trade and develop into legitimate first team players.”
Bent, 37, originally joined the first team ahead of the 2011 season after spending the previous three seasons in the Academy. Prior to coaching, Bent started his professional playing career in 1997 with German second division club, FSV Zwickau; where he spent one season before moving to the Colorado Rapids. He spent three seasons with Colorado appearing in over 50 matches and was part of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup finals squad in 1999. His last professional club was Plymouth Argyle in England where he played three seasons. Bent helped Plymouth win the Division Three Championship in 2001-2002, and the Division Two Championship in 2003-2004. In addition to his club football career, Bent earned 32 caps for the Canadian National Team. Bent holds both his USSF National “A” Licence and a UEFA B Level 2 Licence.
USL PRO featured 14 teams in 2014; prior to Toronto, 10 new teams were announced to begin play in 2015. They include: Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Montreal, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, St. Louis and Tulsa.
The Toronto USL PRO team will train out of the club’s Kia Training Grounds. Additional information on club name, venue for home matches and tickets will be released at a later date.