If you were to look at the USL standings over the past two years, you would find Toronto FC II’s record to be somewhat lacking. With only 13 wins out of those 58 games, the term “somewhat lacking” seems more like an understatement. So far, the results in 2017 seem to follow the trend as they have only 1 victory in their opening 11 games after their 1-0 defeat in Cincinnati on Saturday.
This isn’t the typical story that legends are made of, in fact quite the opposite is true. Two and a ⅓ of a season of lacklustre results fans and management require a scapegoat, usually the coach. You may find it odd that coach Jason Bent is still employed with his record of 14 wins, 14 draws and 41 losses. But if you look deeper however, you should see that what he is accomplishing, is still fantastic and far more important.
One of the primary responsibilities of any Tier 2 team like the Toronto Marlies and Raptors 905 is help grow the talent to one day play at the top level. Look no further than to what Raheem Edwards has done for Toronto FC this year and you begin to understand that whatever is going on at TFC II is working. Edwards was a raw talent plucked out of the Ontario College league and spent 44 games with TFC II to familiarize himself with the nuances of the game and the responsibilities of the winger position he plays.
Toronto native Raheem Edwards Shines in First MLS Start
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) April 2, 2017
His growth through the Young Reds, despite the poor team record, is being reaped by the parent club this year. Not only is he playing with the first team, but he’s a factor on the field. He is already one of the top 5 Assist Leaders in the entire MLS. He has a knack for making things happen and is a danger on the wing with his speed and confidence.
It would be easy to discount TFC II’s role in Edwards success if he was the only one, but he isn’t. Alex Bono has challenged Clint Irwin for the starting goalie performance as he played extremely well when called upon. Jordan Hamilton, Tsubasa Endoh have also performed well when called up and even first timers Ben Spencer and Mitchell Taintor showed poise when playing their first game for the parent club.
The MLS season is long and gruelling and it can’t be underestimated how important depth is to endure it. Besides the regular season, there are Canada cup games, League Championships and friendlies. Greg Vanney may be a little biased, but there aren’t many people coming up with opposing arguments when he said, “We have the deepest team in the league. Maybe the deepest ever.”
That was proven this weekend not in TFC II’s loss to Cincinnati, but in TFC’s 5-0 victory over their Trillium Cup rivals, Columbus Crew. It isn’t the fact that this was their 8th straight league game without a defeat (7-1-0) or that the first team won by such a huge margin. It was impressive because they did it without their two most prolific scoring threats Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco and the last two goals were scored short handed as Marky Delgado was ejected.
It should now go without saying how well TFC II produce talent for their parent club. This isn’t to say we should dismiss their results in the USL entirely though. Winning is important as it puts these youngsters in a position to play games that really matter. Playoff and cup games tend to have a lot more pressure associated with them and just like any other skill, it takes practice playing in those situations to get used to them. That is the one thing that TFC II have not been able to prepare their players for. The Marlies have had a couple of deep playoff runs and Raptors 905 won the championship this year. That kind of experience is invaluable and TFC II will need to get there to help put the finishing touches on their youngsters as they prepare for them for promotion.
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerFR) June 2, 2016
Apart from all the good TFC II is doing for the parent club, let’s not forget what else they are doing. They are helping to grow Canadian soccer. Going back to that one game vs Columbus, it was Canadian Tosaint Ricketts that was brought down for a penalty kick that Victor Vazquez converted. While down a man it was the Canadian connection of Jordan Hamilton passing it to Jonathan Osorio who then found the back of the net. The fifth goal for TFC that night was scored by Hamilton this time and assisted by Edwards and Osorio. Not all of them have spent time, with TFC II, but practicing in the same complex together is quite beneficial.
Yes, Toronto FC II’s record is one of the worst in the USL but that doesn’t mean they are not playing quality soccer or growing quality talent. Their parent club TFC can certainly attest to that. So if you were considering not to see a game because of their record, think again. Who knows who the next Raheem Edwards will be. It might be a Ryan Telfer, an Angelo Cavalluzzo or Vaughan’s own Luca Uccello.
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