Coach Gianni Cimini is convinced his young developmental side can emulate the success of its Toronto Football Club parent team.
The first-year manager for TFC II is about to lead the second-tier squad into the new MLS Next Pro League schedule, knowing they have something strong on which to build.
“It’s a team that likes to play football, likes to play with the ball on the ground, is courageous with the ball, and looks to be also aggressive when we don’t have the ball,” said Cimini, after practice on Tuesday at the BMO Training Ground.
“We share the same identity as obviously our first team and those are the things that we’re trying to look at in terms of us in the MLS Next Pro.”
The league begins its inaugural season in March of 2022, with the goal, it says, of creating a direct pathway to the MLS and allow for players to train for the next steps.
“This new league [brings] new challenges,” says midfielder Steffan Yeates. “[We’re] just really looking to really compete to win games and to win the championship … to push for playoffs. I think that’s something that the group is really, really hoping for.”
Goalkeeper Luka Gavran, selected in the second round (31st overall) of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft, is, at 21, one of the older players on the team. He strives to be the leader for a group that is young but filled with potential.
“I’m [going to] have to step up as a leader,” the six-foot-six goalkeeper said. “Hopefully keep the team in check you know, during games and obviously off the field but I think we’re a hungry team that’s ready to play this year.”
Gavran is known for his great personality on and off the field, said Cimini. His teammates can count on him to make a big save, and he has a strong will in times of adversity.
TFC 2 will begin its season against FC Cincinnati 2, at the NKU Soccer Stadium, on April 3, with kick-off set for 2 p.m. in Kentucky.