TFC II youngsters play key role despite loss to Bethlehem

Okello, Hundal lead impactful teens for Young Reds

In a season marred with disappointing results, TFC II head coach Jason Bent remains optimistic in his club.

Among these positives are the effort of his young academy players as the season winds down.

Bethlehem Steel FC (12-11-7) defeated the Young Reds (6-18-7) 4-2 Friday evening behind two early goals from forward Santi Moar.

Despite the loss, Bent was impressed with his teenagers.

“The young guys were excellent today,” Bent said after the match. “Even with losing, there were some positive things tonight. Overall I thought it was a very good performance from the young players.”

Six players aged 20 or younger featured in Friday’s clash with Bethlehem. This included a United Soccer League debut from 17-year-old midfielder Noble Okello, a former academy member.

Coach Bent saw neither tension or hesitance from his young men.

“Okello’s first pass was a 40 dart right on the money showing no signs of his nerves, so it was nice to give him a taste of it.” said Bent. “I thought Matthew (Srbely) was excellent in his positioning tonight and his use of the ball was fantastic. I thought Danny Da Silva had some moments for himself making his starting debut as well.”

A Toronto native, Okello had been waiting all year for his chance to play in the USL, seizing the opportunity in his team’s penultimate contest.

“I was buzzing, I was excited to go in,” Okello said. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Toronto FC. To make my debut at such a young age, it felt really good.”

Leading the offensive charge for Toronto FC’s affiliate was another teenager: 18-year-old Shaan Hundal.

Hundal netted two second-half goals against the Steel, bringing his season total to six. Scoring in three straight matches, he passed fellow forward Jordan Hamilton for the team lead in 2017.

The Brampton, Ont., native’s 12 career USL goals is also the most in TFC II history. He will look to surpass his 2016 totals in his team’s final contest this year.

With 25 points, Toronto FC II will finish last in the Eastern Conference. The team wraps up their schedule next Saturday, Oct. 14 against FC Cincinnati (11-9-10).

Even though the team’s struggles are well documented, Coach Bent is looking forward to how his team and young players close off their season.

“We’re focused on our own performance and trying to end our season on a high note.

“I just want to get better next week and win one last one for the guys.”