A new TFC II season is upon us as the Young Reds return to action this Friday in Orlando. With the new season comes a new league, new players and new competition. Here’s a quick rundown of what to look out for this season.
Announced in July of 2018, Toronto FC II will make the switch to the newly formed USL League One this season. TFC II joins as a founding member of the league, which sits on level three of the North American Soccer Pyramid.
League One features 10 teams spread across North America. The Young Reds will play a 28-game schedule, playing their 14 home games at the BMO Training Ground.
The 10 teams will compete in a single table with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs. The winner of the playoffs will be crowned the inaugural League One champions.
As the team transitions to a new league, so does the roster. Players who have been staples in the lineup in years past have moved up to the first team or been sent out on loan. So here’s a look at the current TFC II roster second-year head coach Michael Rabasca will be working with this season.
The Reds have two ‘keepers under contract, both of which are new to the club in 2019. Eric Klenofsky joins the Reds from Israeli side Hapoel Marmorek. Prior to his time in Israel, Klenofsky was drafted by D.C. United in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft. Joining Klenofsky between the sticks is Canadian Yann Fillion. Fillion was acquired by the Young Reds on loan from FC Zurich. Prior to signing with the Swiss side, Fillion spent his youth career with the Montreal Impact and had six appearances with FC Montreal in the USL.
Only one defender who made an appearance during the 2018 season remains in Terique Mohammed. The TFC Academy product appeared in 10 games last season picking up one assist. Jelani Peters is also back looking to return to action after missing the entirety of the 2018 season recovering from injury.
Three new defenders join the backline in Patrick Bunk-Anderson, Franco Ramos-Mingo, and Jesus West. Bunk-Anderson is a central defender who was selected in the third round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft after playing 4 seasons at Clemson. Ramos-Mingo is another centre-back who was signed out of the reserve side of Argentine giants Boca Juniors. And finally, West is a wide defender who is on loan from Club del Este FC of the Panamanian top division.
A midfield core from 2018 remains with five players coming back who played significant minutes with the team last year: Gideon Waja, Luca Petrasso, Dante Campbell, Matthew Srbely, and Jordan Faria. Srbely led the group with 29 appearances chipping in three goals and three assists. Campbell had 22 appearances scoring once. Waja (18 appearances), Faria (14) and Petrasso (9) are all set to be contributors this season.
Joining the core of midfielders are two Academy signings and two internationals. Mehdi Essoussi, an 18-year-old, signed back in September 2018 for the 2019 season and has made 16 appearances in the USSDA this year. Ralph Priso, a 16-year-old, signed back in March and has made 15 appearances in the DA scoring three times this season.
The two internationals joining the squad are Adolfo Ovalle and Trevor Swartz. “Fito” Ovalle is a Chilean youth international who has spent time with Real Salt Lake. The 21-year-old got into six games for RSL between the 2015-2016 seasons. Swartz was signed out of Indiana University, where he spent four years making 82 appearances.
The forward group currently consists exclusively of Academy grads. Jordan Perruzza returns after appearing in four games, scoring twice last year. He is joined up top by Jacob Shaffelburg who signed in November. The winger made his debut for the first team in the Concacaf Champions League in February.
And lastly, two younger Academy grads are currently signed to contracts in Jayden Nelson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty. Nelson, 16, signed in September has made 11 appearances in the USSDA for the TFC Academy this season recording 5 goals at the U-18/19 level. At 14-years-old, Marshall-Rutty was the youngest ever TFC Academy player to sign a professional contract. Marshall-Rutty has enjoyed success in the USSDA this year recording 22 goals in 16 games across two age groups.
With the switch to USL League One, the Young Reds will have to get to know nine new teams this season. Stretching as far west as Tucson, Arizona and as far south as Orlando, Florida here are the other nine USL L1 founders.
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
The Red Wolves join the league as a new franchise this year playing in a temporary home stadium before the construction of a 5500-seat soccer-specific stadium in 2020.
Player to watch: Éamon Zayed – Forward
The 35-year old Libyan International spent his youth career at Leicester City. He is best known for scoring a famous hat-trick in final 10-minutes of the Tehran Derby in 2012.
Forward Madison FC
Another new franchise in the League, Forward Madison brings pro soccer to the capital of Wisconsin. The team’s crest and jerseys feature the club’s mascot prominently, a Flamingo.
Player to watch: Josiel Núñez – Midfielder
A 26-year-old, who is on loan with FMFC, is a full-capped Panamanian International having scored two international goals in 14 caps.
Greenville Triumph SC
The Triumph also joins the league as a new franchise, they were the third team announced to join USL League One.
Player to watch: Cole Seiler – Defender
The 25-year-old from Anderson, South Carolina was the 16th overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Lansing Ignite FC
The ninth founding member of USL League One, Lansing are the affiliate of the Chicago Fire.
Player to watch: Nathan Lewis – Midfielder
The 28-year-old is a full international for Trinidad and Tobago. He has two goals in 18 caps. He spent last season with Indy Eleven in the USL Championship.
North Texas SC
North Texas SC is the reserve side of FC Dallas and will play home games at Toyota Stadium. As expected, the team is full of FC Dallas Academy products.
Player to Watch: Ricardo Pepi – Forward
The 16-year-old is a highly touted US Youth prospect and is already off to a great start scoring a hat-trick in the team’s opener, which was also his professional debut.
Orlando City B
The third MLS reserve side in USL League One, OCB returns to action following a hiatus in 2018.
Player to Watch: Nathan Simeon – Defender
The 18-year-old native of Montreal is one of two Canadians on the OCB roster. The defender spent his youth career in the Impact Academy.
South Georgia Tormenta FC
The founding father of USL League One, SGTFC makes the jump up from the PDL to join the league this season.
Player to watch: Lars Eckenrode – Defender
The former TFC II defender has found his way to Georgia after spending the last two seasons with the Young Reds.
Founded in 2010, FC Tucson makes the switch to USL League One after 8 years in the PDL. They are the affiliate club of Phoenix Rising FC.
Player to Watch: Jose Terrón – Defender
The 27-year-old Spaniard has had a journeyman career to date but spent his youth career at the famed La Masia, the Youth Academy of FC Barcelona.
The only other side to make the move from USL to USL League One, the Richmond Kickers are a familiar foe for the Young Reds.
Player to Watch: Lucas Mendes – Midfielder
The 20-year-old spent his youth career with DC United and made appearances for both the U-18 and U-20 US national teams.
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