Toronto FC III open their League1 Ontario season this weekend as they play host to FC London on Sunday (1:00 PM) at the BMO Training Ground.
Toronto FC III is Toronto FC’s senior Academy team and features a mix of academy players and players on professional deals. The team competes in League1 Ontario, which is on the third tier of the Canadian Soccer period.
Lead by head coach Danny Dichio, TFC III will be looking to build off a strong 2017 campaign and continue with the development of the academy’s oldest players
Last season TFC III put together a strong campaign finishing in third place in the Western Conference. The Reds picked up 45 points going 14-5-3 with an impressive +43 goal differential.
The Reds got strong seasons from a number of youngsters in 2017. Jordan Faria, Daniel Da Silva, Matthew Srbely, Rocco Romeo, Luca Petrasso, Noble Okello, Kunle Dada-Luke, Dante Campbell, and Steffen Yeates all played significant roles for TFC III last season and have all began to work their way into the TFC II squad.
Julian Dunn became the sixth player in club history to sign with the first team after completing his way through the full player pathway designed at Toronto FC. Dunn made six appearances for TFC III last season and was named a Leauge1 Ontario midseason all-star. Dunn made his Toronto FC debut on April 14 against Colorado.
“It gives the players a visible route,” said Dichio when asked about Dunn’s signing, “If [they] put the work in and [they] perform well… it’s a good story for the younger players to adhere to.”
2018 brings a new year and a new format to League1. This year the league has got rid of the two-conference system in favour of a single table. Each team will play each other once. The top eight teams will qualify for a “Champions League style “group stage playoff.
The new year also brings new opportunity. As the aforementioned players move up to earn minutes in the USL it opens new opportunities for a younger group of players.
“As it is with every year, a new season is a start of progressing some of the younger players into League1,” said Dichio, “It’s always a good gage for our younger players to see how they compete against semi-professional players.”
TFC III will be in tough this year with League1 clubs improving as they compete for the coveted spot in the 2019 Canadian Championship. Last season’s champions the Oakville Blue Devils are in the 2018 Canadian Championship.
Players to Watch
“We have a lot of 2000 born players that played for us last year but didn’t start games so the onus is on them now to push through and gain starting spots,” said Dichio.
Yeates, Zakaria Abdi, Afram Gorgees, Christopher Castillo, Terique Mohammed, and Josh Moreira to name a few 2000’s that should factor in more this season for TFC III than they did last year. Kembo Kibato is another 2000 that joins TFC III after an all-star season with North Toronto in League1.
“Then we have the younger group of 2001’s coming through,” explained Dichio, “those are the type of guys we really want to push the older players in the group competing for places.”
Dichio highlighted Mehdi Essoussi and Ryan Robinson as 2001 born players he would like to see make a push for TFC III minutes this season.
How to follow
Toronto FC III plays all their home matches at the BMO Training Ground at Downsview Park with all matches being open to the public and free to attend. You can also follow the club on Twitter for match updates. The full schedule can be found here.