Editorial — There were four players drafted by Toronto FC on Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft. These four players are Nyal Higgins, who was picked No. 19 overall, and Ifunanyachi Achara was No. 25 overall. The second round had Malick Mbaye drafted No. 33 overall, and Danish defender Simon Waever was drafted No. 51 overall.
This article will look at the four soccer players drafted by TFC, starting with Higgins.
TFC’s MLS SuperDraft Selections
Nyal Higgins – Ajax Native
The No. 19 pick, which originally belonged to the LA Galaxy, was collected by Toronto via trade.
Higgins had one goal and one assist at Syracuse in the 2019 regular season. He played his previous three years with Oakland University. The Ajax native also played in Canada’s third tier division in League1 Ontario called Vaughan Azzurri. General manager Ali Curtis is quoted about why they are excited about Higgins playing for TFC.
“We’ve been watching him for some time,” Curtis said about Higgins, who has been at the TFC training facility the past few days. “We felt really good that he’s a player that can not only play right centre back but also play left centre back and just add a lot of competitive attitude to our backline. We’re excited about him.”
He has got many awards in his college career. Higgins got awarded as part of the Horizon All-Freshman Team award in 2016. Meanwhile, he also got the All-Horizon League Second Team honors in 2017 and 2018.
Higgins will be someone to watch, especially with the departure of Drew Moor.
Guess how many days until we're back? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/eWkAkdsChg
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) January 10, 2020
Ifunanyachi Achara – Nigerian Native and College Champion
Achara was the second and last pick Toronto had in the first round. He played a big role in his college team Georgetown of winning the college championships. Achara could be a gold-mine for TFC, as injuries were the biggest reason why he dropped so low in the draft. This guy played a big role in his college team Georgetown of winning the college championships. Curtis seemed particularly excited about Achara and he said this in Steve Buffery’s Toronto Sun article, that Achara changed the game.
“(He was) the captain of their team,” Curtis said. “Good character and we’re excited to bring him into our environment. He’s unfortunately had a few injuries and picked up a few knocks here and there, but on all accounts had he not had some of those injuries, we believe he probably would have been a Generation Adidas player and a top-five pick. And we have a lot of confidence in our medical and performance (staff) so we think we can get him to Toronto, work with him, (get him healthy), and see how things go in pre-season.”
Toronto is confident that they can take care of Achara’s health. Curtis also seems confident that these players could compete for positions in the first team.
Summary of First Round Selections
According to Curtis, the first-round picks will make some impact on TFC’s first team.
“They both have some athletic capabilities that we think will be valuable in our environment and will help those guys compete for playing time and opportunities,” Curtis said.
The first-round selections are the only ones that realistically could crack the Toronto first team. However, this does not mean second-round picks cannot make a name for themselves. Having a TFC II and a TFC Academy allows players more chances to shine and show their skills to the TFC management and ownership. There were two second-round picks with the first one being Mbaye drafted No. 33.
Malick Mbaye – Clemson Tigers
A native of Dakar, Senegal, Mbaye is an excellent player from Clemson University, where he played in 49 games. According to Steve Buffery of the Standard-Free Holder, he was named as an All-ACC freshmen team, TopDrawer Soccer Best XI and earned the team’s newcomer of the year award.
According to the Clemson Tigers website, the team he played for he has many honors and awards won at the collegiate level. In 2016, he earned the Newcomer of the Year Award and in 2017 became a staple of Clemson’s backline. Finally, in 2018 he was named in the ACC Academic Honor Roll for 2018-19.
He could be a valuable defender for Toronto down the line. Joining him in the second round is Danish player Waever.
The 6-foot-2 defender is a native of Ajax. Welcome back, Nyal. 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/HuLsQm8R5y
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) January 9, 2020
Simon Waever – Evansville and Indiana
Another defender drafted by Toronto, Waever will hope to add depth to the TFC chart. According to MLS.com, he had four assists for Indiana. His previous three years were with Evansville where he scored two goals in three seasons.
He won many awards and honors in his college career. This includes part of the MVC All-Freshmen Team in 2016, was the All-MVC First Team in 2017 and 2018, and also the All-Big Ten Second Team in 2019.
Do not expect Mbaye and/or Waever, and even the first-round pick to not make an immediate impact. However, Toronto is very involved in developing and making the players that can make a difference like Tsubasa Endoh.
The MLS SuperDraft is not as important as it used to be. Before the age of academies and DP’s, drafted MLS players used to make a big immediate impact like with Landon Donovan. However, those days are over now. With the introduction of Designated Players and the birth of Toronto II, the relevance of the MLS SuperDraft has become smaller.
Unfortunately, the MLS SuperDraft is not like the NHL and NBA Drafts. There are no superstar players like Mats Sundin or LeBron James type who are drafted. However, these players can play a pivotal role in a team, just like Tsubasa Endoh has done for TFC.
Furthermore, the draft is not over. On Monday, Toronto will have three more picks in the third and fourth rounds of the MLS SuperDraft. These players most likely will play on Toronto II or even the TFC Academy team. However, at the same time, there could be some hidden gems that could play a big part in Toronto FC.