Toronto, Ontario, Canada — Toronto FC made it to the MLS Finals last year. There was a lot of optimism for the offseason with Jozy Altidore healthy and ready to go.
Take a look at the newest members of Toronto FC and which players have said goodbye to the club. However, if you’re looking for information on the recent MLS SuperDraft picks, see a pervious article. Toronto’s offseason transactions include Homegrown players like Rocco Romeo, Jahkeelee Marshall-Rutty and Jayden Nelson.
Romeo is a Homegrown player that will play for Toronto FC. He has played for Toronto FC II from 2016 onwards and with Toronto FC III from 2016-18. Recently, he played for the Danish club HB Køge in 2019.
“[Rocco] has a great frame for a centre-back – six-four and change, moves nicely, very athletic. Very comfortable with the ball, is comfortable playing on the left side or the right side of the centre-back positions,” manager Greg Vanney said, via Toronto FC. “He has a good sense of the defensive side, he’s going to continue to grow in his high-level reading of the game, dealing with better forwards, dealing with teams with more sophisticated attacks, things like that, but he has a lot of tools already in place.”
Romeo has played an exhibition game against the first team of FC Copenhagen.
“Getting to play in an exhibition game against FC Copenhagen, their first team,” Romeo said. “It was a little taste of a high-level dream. Every day I replay that in my head and strive to be the best I could be.”
It is unclear what Romeo’s role is with the team. This is because Vanney is not sure where his minutes are going to come from. However, Vanney said that Romeo will be getting quality MLS minutes in pre-season. He is the first of three Homegrown players signed by Toronto. A day later, the club signed 15-year-old Marshall-Rutty.
"We want to be consistent this year, we want to be in the Supporters’ Shield race, we want every game to be important, and we'll take our time to set ourselves up.”#TFCLive
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) February 5, 2020
Marshall-Rutty could be the most interesting Homegrown player signing for Toronto FC.
“Jahkeele is the top player in his age group across Canada and the U.S., and he is among the top young players in all of North America,” said General Manager Ali Curtis said to the Toronto Sun. “He is an incredibly talented young man. While he’s only 15 years old, he plays the game in very mature way. He had interest from many top clubs in Europe.”
Curtis will be looking at Marshall-Rutty carefully. There is no denying the Homegrown midfielder has a bright future ahead of him. He is only 15, making him the youngest player ever signing a professional contract with Toronto.
This midfielder made his professional debut for Toronto FC II on June 28, 2019. Arguably the top player across Canada and the U.S. at his age group, he’ll will be looking to make a difference with the first team. This leads to the third Homegrown player that signed with Toronto: Jayden Nelson.
Nelson, who is 17, won the Canadian International Youth Player of the Year Award.
“Jayden has all the tools to be a top player,” Curtis said to the Sun. “He’s only 17, so we need to be measured with his development, but we believe he can be a very important player for both club and country.”
Nelson made 14 appearances for Toronto FC II. This included his international debut on April 6, 2019, when they faced Orlando City B.
On the international level, Nelson debuted on Jan. 7, against Barbados. Three days later, he scored his first goal with the senior Canadian men’s national team against Barbados. Canada won 4-1 against Barbados on both Jan. 7 and 10.
In the U-17 level, he helped Canada qualify for the FIFA World Cup. This was the first time Canada made it to the U-17 World Cup since 2013. They finished last in the group, but had competitive matches against Angola and New Zealand.
Other players Toronto re-signed included defender Chris Mavinga and goalkeeper Quentin Westberg. Mavinga is a great defender and Westberg played a pivotal role in Toronto’s MLS Cup Playoff run. However, the biggest deal was American international Michael Bradley. He signed a TAM deal with Toronto allowing them to sign a third Designated Player in addition to Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo.
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) February 3, 2020
Bradley, midfielder and captain of Toronto FC, has been with the club since 2015. The TAM deal made with Bradley was probably the biggest move Toronto made in the offseason. Toronto Bill president Bill Manning said the club looks at it like they “got four DPs.”
“We look at it like we’ve got four DPs,” Manning said to the Sun. “I believe there are other teams that would have paid him a DP salary. And he made a decision that he wanted to continue the journey here.”
Toronto FC Offseason Transaction Summary
Toronto lost a lot of key players in the offseason. Drew Moor, who left the team after winning the MLS Cup in 2017, was the most notable departure. He also appeared in the 2016 and 2019 MLS Cup Finals for Toronto FC.
Canadian players Ashtone Morgan and Jay Chapman are also no longer with the team. Furthermore, Nicolas Benezet, who played a big role in Toronto’s MLS Cup Playoff run, had his loan deal expired.
Finally, the gamble with Bradley taking a TAM deal might be taking a hit. According to The Athletic, MLS is looking at either eliminating or putting a cap on the third Designated Player. The reason for this might be to make the league more balanced for small-market teams that cannot afford a third.
However, with the signing of three Homegrown players, Toronto is looking at the future of not just their club, but of the national team as well. Look for potentially all three players to make an immediate impact on the first team.
To find out the games fans should look at, read about Toronto FC and their 2020 MLS Schedule.