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Dunn, Okello, and Romeo sign first pro deals

 
 
Three Toronto FC Academy players have signed their first professional contracts as midfielder Noble Okello and defenders Rocco Romeo and Julian Dunn all inked deals this week.
 
“I think the signings are pretty consistent with what we want for the future of the club,” said Toronto FC Assistant General Manager, Team Operations and Strategy Corey Wray. ”These signings are obviously important for our desire to expand our professional pathway.”
 
The Toronto FC professional pathway consists of three distinct steps, starting with Toronto FC III in League1 Ontario. Players then have the chance to move on to Toronto FC II in the USL before the ultimate goal of signing an MLS deal with TFC’s first team. These three players all signed USL contracts and will start their journey playing professionally for both Toronto FC II and III.
 
Noble Okello – Midfielder
 
Okello is a holding midfielder who has made nine appearances in League1 Ontario this season while playing for TFC III. Okello joined the Academy in 2013 coming from Mooredale S.C. 
 
“It means a lot to me to sign,” said the 17-year old Okello. “I’ve been at the club since I was 12 and to finally get the opportunity to play at a high level means a lot.” 
 
“Noble is a player I have high hopes for,” said TFC III Head Coach Danny Dichio.” Noble is a central holding midfielder, a very tall, mobile midfielder who has lovely soft feet… He is a player with a very good mentality.”
 
“We like the fact that he is a very smart player, technically very sound,” said Wray. “He is able to distribute the ball very easily to either side of the field.”
 
 
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Noble has been loaned out to HB Koge FC of the Danish second division for the remainder of the 2020 Fall season.  This is the same team that TFC loaned Rocco Romeo too (however Rocco's loan is for the

The MLS homegrown team wins the shoot-out 3-0 (the Mexicans missed all three PK's, with their keeper taking the first) and Okello (who wasn't one of the three shooters in the PK) takes home the MVP aw

Beast mode!  Looks like he put on a bit of muscle in Denmark.  Still wonder if he might make a good centre back.

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But can he play CB?

Great news to read. Obviously very highly rated and is among a growing number of Canadians emerging with this kind of promise. Let's hope we and they strike lucky and make it past the hype.  

Given the amount of youth development progress we have made over the past 10 years, current Canadian MLS boom in quality and CPL this kind of report should only be the tip of the iceberg that is going to grow.

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The article kind of makes it sound like TFC is holding him back.  He only signed last fall and TFC2 has barely gotten the season going (with games being delayed etc) so not much chance to play in USL yet.  What are the rules for a 17 year old going signing in europe?  Would he have to wait until he was 18 (this summer)?  Very exciting for the kid and nice to see the academy system produce some results.  

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Nipun Chopra, master troll:

"Canada has a rich history of sending players to the Bundesliga. Paul Stalteri, Marcel de Jong and Julian de Guzman all played in the league. Most famously, Calgary-born Owen Hargreaves moved from Canada to the youth academy at Bayern Munich as a 16-year-old, eventually going on to win multiple trophies with the Bundesliga hegemon."

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1 hour ago, Bison44 said:

The article kind of makes it sound like TFC is holding him back.  He only signed last fall and TFC2 has barely gotten the season going (with games being delayed etc) so not much chance to play in USL yet.  What are the rules for a 17 year old going signing in europe?  Would he have to wait until he was 18 (this summer)?  Very exciting for the kid and nice to see the academy system produce some results.  

Sounds like a PR piece almost. And yes, he cannot sign until his 18th bday.

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HAHA, thats what I thought..maybe the author is his agent as well..."he still isnt getting any time at MLS or USL".  I guess with Davies having success people are thinking that 16/17 year olds should be thrown out there.  I guess maybe Lindsey and Henry were under 18 when they first got on the field (MLS), but its not something that gets done all the time.  Still kind of exciting that TFC have guys in the academy that are getting attention from big clubs across the pond.  

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2 hours ago, El Diego said:

Yeah I didn't really like the piece, either. Makes it sound like a "six figure" offer is huge (could just be 100k) and that TFC owes him playing time (he's 17 for fucks sake).

A six figure offer for an unestablished 17 year old Canadian is pretty big to be fair.. even if it’s 100k. If it’s true they’ve made 3 offers that is pretty telling.  Hopefully he can be a contributor on our u20 team.

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Slowly but surely these MLS Canadian team Academies will start to produce players I know we sometimes want results right away but these things take time . It's really only been less than 10 years now that these Canadian MLS Academies got off the ground so it's still going to take some time but it's nice to see a few prospects starting to come through.

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On 4/7/2018 at 3:07 PM, 1996 said:

Slowly but surely these MLS Canadian team Academies will start to produce players I know we sometimes want results right away but these things take time . It's really only been less than 10 years now that these Canadian MLS Academies got off the ground so it's still going to take some time but it's nice to see a few prospects starting to come through.

How much longer are we going to be trotting this one out?  I've been hearing some variation of this for too long.

At some point we've got to realize that MLS does not develop players.  It is one of the worst environments to be in for a player that is 18-22.

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19 minutes ago, El Hombre said:

How much longer are we going to be trotting this one out?  I've been hearing some variation of this for too long.

At some point we've got to realize that MLS does not develop players.  It is one of the worst environments to be in for a player that is 18-22.

Agreed. If its been 10 years now, the 18 year olds have been in the academy since they were 8.

If we look at the recent "academy" breakthroughs for TFC for example, Osorio and Edwards never played for the academy. The guys that did spend a good amount of time in the academy have never really broken into the first team

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The TFC academy started in 2008 with players as young as 15 ('93's), those kids turn 25 this year. In 2012 Aron Winter expanded to start at age 12, those kids were born in 2000 and turn 18 this year. Romeo, Dunn-Johnson and Okello are among these kids though not sure when each of them joined. Hundaal (99) and Uccello (98) may have started then too. Fraser i think joined later after moving from Vancouver.

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1 hour ago, El Hombre said:

How much longer are we going to be trotting this one out?  I've been hearing some variation of this for too long.

At some point we've got to realize that MLS does not develop players.  It is one of the worst environments to be in for a player that is 18-22.

Maybe the MLS academies have not made Canada a top international nation yet but they have contributed to our national team. From the most recent call-ups Mark-Anthony Kaye, Marcus Godinho, Simon Thomas, Michael Petrasso, Sam Adekugbe, Raheem Edwards, Jay Chapman, and Liam Fraser all came through MLS academies and other top players Alphonso Davies and Anthony Jackson-Hamel both can be added to this list.

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1 hour ago, El Hombre said:

At some point we've got to realize that MLS does not develop players.  It is one of the worst environments to be in for a player that is 18-22.

The sad fact is MLS is in a position where it doesn't really need to develop young players.  It makes some attempt at development but I think mainly for PR purposes.  There is a big pool of young players in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean, there is the NCAA and USL, there are old Europeans, and there are Americans wanting to come home after varying levels of success abroad.

On the whole I think having TFCII is better than not having TFCII and as @Ruffian mentioned there have been success stories that just did not end up with the senior club.  But if done properly the CPL will be in a better position than MLS academies to provide opportunities for young Canadians.  It should also help the cream to rise to the top so that the best young talent can be funneled into MLS, Europe, or even in the odd case LigaMX.

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36 minutes ago, Ruffian said:

Maybe the MLS academies have not made Canada a top international nation yet but they have contributed to our national team. From the most recent call-ups Mark-Anthony Kaye, Marcus Godinho, Simon Thomas, Michael Petrasso, Sam Adekugbe, Raheem Edwards, Jay Chapman, and Liam Fraser all came through MLS academies and other top players Alphonso Davies and Anthony Jackson-Hamel both can be added to this list.

If you have a national team then players are going to get selected from somewhere. We were producing Stalteris, Hutchinsons, and deGuzmans before academies. Has the presence of MLS academies materially improved either the quality of player Canada produces or quality of the our national teams? At first glance the answer to me is no. But I’d be churlish to say that there has been no benefit. Fifa rules that prevent 17 & under from going oversees (there are passport exceptions) might have been more devastating had the academies not existed.

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1 hour ago, Gordon said:

If you have a national team then players are going to get selected from somewhere. We were producing Stalteris, Hutchinsons, and deGuzmans before academies. Has the presence of MLS academies materially improved either the quality of player Canada produces or quality of the our national teams? At first glance the answer to me is no. But I’d be churlish to say that there has been no benefit. Fifa rules that prevent 17 & under from going oversees (there are passport exceptions) might have been more devastating had the academies not existed.

I think that's the thing. The academies are just trying to offset the damage done by the fact we can't let other countries do our development work anymore.

I haven't yet seen enough evidence to suggest that amount of time spent with an academy raises the quality of player by the time they are ready to turn pro. Guys like Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Raheem Edwards, Johnathan Osorio, and even Alphonso Davies were basically dropped off at the academy good enough to take the next step. But it is good seeing the guys that Ruffian mentioned that are finding their opportunities elsewhere after having spent time in MLS academies.

Either way though, I'd like to see meaningful improvement in results for the senior or even the youth national teams before declaring the MLS academies a boon for player development.

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