Toronto Football Club Academy graduate Antonio Carlini is ready to help his team succeed in the Major League Soccer NEXT Pro inaugural season when it begins in April.
Born in Ottawa, he is a central midfielder for Toronto FC II and just wrapped up a first professional season competing in the United Soccer League (USL).
Carlini has his sights set on making a positive impact in the upcoming season after signing a contract extension on March 18 with the same organization of his youth.
“The expectation for the first couple games is (to) get some good team chemistry going and see if we can pick up rhythm, try and get in the playoffs and make a run for the championship,” he said, in an interview on Thursday. “I think there is high expectations for this team.”
The former Toronto FC Academy player is poised to be a part of a young team where everyone is highly motivated. The 21-year-old believes the MLS NEXT Pro will give young players a chance to showcase their talent and help to advance their careers.
Carlini is familiar with newly appointed head coach Gianni Cimini and is looking forward to working closely with him this season.
“I’m extremely excited to have Gianni as a coach, he’s obviously someone who’s brought me in when I was 13 (or) 14 years old so I’ve known him for a while,” said Carlini. “Now I have the opportunity to work with him and hopefully achieve really good things this season.”
Cimini praised his player for his high work ethic and the strong leadership he provides for the team.
“He’s a player that brings a lot of energy into the midfield and also a lot of quality in possession of the ball,” said Cimini. “He’s a guy that demands the standards of the team and holds people accountable to their performance as well as his own.”
Cimini believes the Italian-Canadian would be relied upon to distribute the ball while providing consistency in the midfield as he did in the USL.
Carlini is looking to build off his successful 2020-21 season where he scored three goals and said he’s excited to continue the development of his game.
TFC II will kick-off the season against FC Cincinnati 2 on April 3.