Toronto FC II will kick off their fourth season in the USL on March 17 as they visit New York Red Bulls II (1:00 PM). With new Head Coach Laurent Guyot in charge and a move to downtown Toronto, 2018 should prove to be a season of renewal for the Young Reds.
The Young Reds finished the 2017 season with a 6-19-7 record, securing 25 points, good for 15th in the USL Eastern Conference. The point total was one fewer than their 2016 total.
The big storyline from the 2017 season was the further infusion of young talent coming up from the Toronto FC Academy into the Toronto FC II roster. Homegrowns Julian Dunn, Rocco Romeo, and Noble Okello, each born in 2000, signed their first professional contracts in 2017.Homegrowns Dante Campbell and Matthew Srbely also signed their first professional contracts during the 2017 USL season.
The new homegrowns joined a young core of local talent that included holdovers Luca Uccello, Aidan Daniels, Shaan Hundal, Liam Fraser, Angelo Cavalluzzo, and Malik Johnson. In total, 18 homegrown players made appearances for TFC II in during the 2017 USL season.
Fraser made 20 appearances for TFC II last season and parlayed a strong season in the USL into an MLS contact becoming the fourth player to graduate through Toronto FC’s complete player pathway, joining Mo Babouli, Raheem Edwards, and current teammate Ayo Akinola.
Along with the development of homegrown talent, Toronto FC II’s primary objective is to act as a reserve side for the first team providing minutes for fitness, injury recovery, etc.. In 2017, eleven players signed to first team contracts made at least one appearance for Toronto FC II and they contributed 5,181 MLS minutes in 2017.
Year to year the Young Reds improved their goals against. TFC II finished with 1.66 goals against per game, which was down from the 1.933 they gave up in 2016.
The 2018 season will again have a major focus on growth and development. However, with an established core of young homegrown players, a new coach, and new home venue this version of TFC II should be poised to reach new heights in 2018.
During the preseason, the team has run out in a 4-4-2 formation, but we may have to wait and see what system new head coach Laurent Guyot plans to implement this season.
Guyot takes over for Jason Bent after spending the last three years as the TFC Academy Director. Guyot’s coaching resume includes French sides FC Nantes, US Boulogne, and CS Sedan Ardennes as well as coaching the U-16 and U-17 French national teams. Bent has re-joined the first team as an assistant coach.
For the fourth consecutive year, Toronto FC II will open the 2018 USL season on the road as they visit New York Red Bulls II.
TFC II will open up their home schedule at BMO Field on March 31 (7:30 PM) against their inter-provincial rival the Ottawa Fury. TFC II went 1-1-1 against their new rivals last season. The Young Reds will travel to Ottawa on May 30 and play host to the team from the Nation’s Capital on September 6 at Lamport Stadium.
In total TFC II will play three home matches at Lamport Stadium this season. The stadium is located in Liberty village just a short walk north from BMO Field. The 9,600-seat stadium is the former home of the TFC Academy CSL team and will be TFC II’s home for the latter part of the season.
Other dates of note for TFC II this season include their first ever matches against Atlanta United 2 (August 31) and Nashville SC (July 28) as well as a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on former NASL side Indy Eleven (August 22). Former English International Joe Cole and the Tampa Bay Rowdies visit BMO Field on May 26.
You can check out the full 2018 TFC II USL schedule here.
Goalkeepers: Angelo Cavalluzzo is currently the only goalkeeper on the roster as this article is written. Cavalluzzo put together an impressive first full season last year in between the sticks. The 25-year-old recorded three clean sheets and stopped shots at a 73.8% clip. The former McMaster Marauder made 19 starts and played 1710 minutes. Cavalluzzo took home the USL’s Save of the Year for this acrobatic stop against Louisville.
Defenders: Currently TFC II has four defenders under contract for 2018. Central defenders Rocco Romeo, Julian Dunn and Jelani Peters as well as wide defender Tim Kübel.
Both Romeo and Dunn will be entering their first full season at the USL level. The 6’2 Dunn made 13 appearances last year logging 1088 minutes. Romeo made two starts for TFC II but logged significant minutes for TFC III in League 1 Ontario earning a second-team all-star nomination.
Peters made three starts last season before an injury ended his year in May. Peters has spent the last year rehabbing and should be ready early in the season.
2018 MLS SuperDraft pick Tim Kübel rounds out the list of defenders. The German joins TFC II after a four-year collegiate career at the University of Louisville. Before Louisville, Kübel spent time with both Borussia Dortmond and Schalke 04 as a youth player, playing professionally in the lower German divisions.
Midfielders: The midfield should be a position of strength for TFC II this season. Currently, the club has six midfielders on the roster. Veterans Aidan Daniels and Luca Uccello are joined by fellow homegrowns Noble Okello, Dante Campbell, and Mathew Srbely. Ghanaian international Gideon Waja was brought in in February to add depth to the position.
Uccello, Toronto FC II’s longest-tenured player enters his fourth professional season. Uccello made 15 appearances for the Young Reds last season scoring three times. Daniels enters his third season with TFC II and is coming off a year where he played 16 games logging 873 minutes.
Okello, Campbell, and Srbely all enter their first full seasons with TFC II as each made a brief appearance in the USL last season. Okello could see some time in the defensive midfield spot with Liam Fraser moving to the first team. Campbell and Srbely could both work their way into the midfield mix this season.
The final piece to the TFC II midfield heading into this season is Gideon Waja. Waja, 21, spent the last two seasons playing in the Ghanaian Premier League. The midfielder has earned two caps for the Ghanaian national team.
Forwards: TFC II will enter 2018 with a strong group of forwards poised to improve on last year’s goal total. Shaan Hundal, Malik Johnson, Aikim Andrews, and Ryan Telfer return from last season with Canadian Youngster Malyk Hamilton added to the mix.
Hundal scored a team-high seven goals last season, a new career mark. The third-year pro will be looking to lead the Reds attack once again this season. Johnson tallied one goal last season, down from his four in 2016. The homegrown enters his fourth professional season.
Andrews appeared in 15 matches in 2017, scoring one goal and tallying one assist. Telfer looks to build off a strong first professional season where he played in a team-high 29 games scoring once and assisting four.
Hamilton joins Toronto FC II following a six-year youth career with West Ham United of the English Premier League. The 18-year-old has represented Canada at the U-15 and U-18 levels.
In addition to the players listed above fans can expect a number of loanees from the first team to play minutes at the USL level this season. Last year TFC loaned 12 players to TFC II. The roster will also be filled out by TFC Academy call-ups. Last season TFC II featured two Academy call-ups.
How to follow
All 34 Toronto FC II matches will be streamed live on the USL Youtube channel. New this year, all Toronto FC Members have access to Toronto FC II home matches included in their packages. Redemption information is still to be determined. Single ticket information will be announced later.