Midfielder Carlini ready to make impact for TFC II

21-year-old midfielder is excited to "be a leader on this team"

Antonio Carlini Toronto FC II
Antonio Carlini finding space to receive the ball in a match for TFC II. He is set to play an important role in the team's midfield for the inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season. (Photo courtesy of TFC's twitter). 

Antonio Carlini is eager to lead TFC II as they get ready to play in the inaugural MLS Next Pro Season in April.

The midfielder has been with the Toronto club since 2017 when coach Gianni Cimini recruited him to play for the team’s academy.

Now the head coach of the second team, he has witnessed first-hand the development of the young player.

“He had a fantastic year last season,” said the former Aurora FC coach during an interview at the training grounds on Thursday. “He’s a player that brings a lot of energy into the midfield and also a lot of quality in possession of the ball.”

The 21-year-old midfielder has scored three goals and one assist in 30 games for TFC II.

Carlini likes to model his game after names like PSG’s Marco Verratti and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, citing the first’s composure on the ball, and the latter’s creativity.

The Ottawa native is amongst a low number of returning players on the roster from last season, as the club restructured the team for the new league.

“I’m one of the few guys that has come back, so I’m excited to go out and have a huge impact, be a leader on this team,” said Carlini.

TFC II’s first game of the season will take place on April 3 against FC Cincinnati 2 at the NKU Soccer Stadium, in Kentucky.

It will be a great opportunity for young players from every MLS club looking to make the jump to the highest level of North American football.

“You have all the best players under 23 playing in the same league,” said the midfielder. “It’s a huge steppingstone to get to the MLS.”

The success of Canada’s men’s national team is deeply tied to systems like the Toronto Football Club’s academy, which aspires to develop young footballers, like TFC first-teamers Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Ayo Akinola.

Carlini is yet another example of the program’s success.

“I’ve been very blessed to get into TFC at a young age and develop from there,” he said. “It helped me big time in my career.”

The 38-year-old coach highlighted the young player’s leadership qualities and his importance to the team.

“He is a guy that demands the standards of the team and holds people accountable for their performance, as well as his own. He is going to be a major piece for us moving forward,” said the first-year head coach.

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Posted: Mar 27 2022 2:22 pm
Filed under: Sports