Toronto FC announced Wednesday that the club has signed a one-year partnership agreement with USL Pro Club, Wilmington Hammerheads FC.
“We are very excited to partner with Wilmington Hammerheads FC and continue to enhance the development of professional footballers in North America,” said Toronto General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “The deal represents the first time our club has established a full development trajectory for our Academy players from the U12 level up through the first team. On the first team it can be a challenge getting younger players sufficient match experience required for their development during the course of a season. This partnership with Wilmington will allow our players to earn those valuable match minutes and continue their growth during the season in a professional environment in USL Pro. Today we have filled a developmental gap within our club.”
As part of the agreement, Toronto FC will loan a minimum of four players to Wilmington during the course of the season. The deal will also forge a business relationship between Toronto and Wilmington; including the sharing of coaching best practices as Toronto FC coaches will be able to observe Wilmington training sessions and matches. Wilmington coaches will also attend Toronto FC’s preseason in Florida next month.
As a result of the partnership, Toronto FC will opt out of the MLS Reserve League for the 2014 season.