Vaughan Scores TFCII
Get ready, Vaughan: professional soccer has landed in the city
Toronto FC has found a home for its new soccer affiliate — and that home is Vaughan.
At a packed press conference at Vaughan City Hall in late January, it was announced that Toronto FC’s recently established USL Pro affiliate team, Toronto FC II, will be playing its home games at a new, 2,000-seat stadium at the Ontario Soccer Centre right here in Vaughan. This franchise will act as a farm team/player development club for the tier-one Major League Soccer team Toronto FC and will be taking the pitch for 12 home games at the new stadium once its construction wraps up this summer.
“Given our proximity to the Kia Training Ground and the passion and support for the game in this community, this is the perfect location for TFC II, and we’re excited for having such a strong municipal partner in the city of Vaughan,” says TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko.
In 2013, MLS established a partnership with the tier-three USL Pro league that would merge the MLS Reserve League with USL Pro teams. The partnership gave MLS teams the option of either operating an independent reserve team or creating their own affiliate club. TFC originally was affiliated with the Wilmington Hammerheads in North Carolina. But after the LA Galaxy created LA Galaxy II as an expansion franchise in 2014, numerous other MLS teams followed suit. The USL Pro league nearly doubled in size for the 2015 season, as four independent teams were formed and seven MLS clubs purchased franchises, including TFC.
Greg Vanney, head coach of TFC, explains that TFC II will act as a development team for the TFC, creating a pathway for young players to make the jump to the first team in MLS, as well as allowing TFC players who might not be getting much playing time at the MLS level or those returning from injury to have an opportunity to see action on the pitch. Vanney feels having the team just up the road is a massive opportunity. “I think we can’t understate how important this is,” Vanney said in a media scrum after the press conference, adding how this system gives young players “the best opportunity to be successful” when they take the next step in their careers.
When Maurizio Bevilacqua became mayor of Vaughan back in 2010, bringing a professional sports team to the city was part of his vision. So to honour the occasion, he announced that city council had already proclaimed January 21 “TFC II Day,” and further cemented his support when he bought the first season tickets. “When organizations like Toronto FC believe in us, we believe in them. That’s how it works here in the city of Vaughan,” said Bevilacqua.
Season tickets currently sell for $96 and, while not officially announced, regular tickets are expected to retail for around $10. TFC II’s new stadium, which will grow to 5,000 seats in three years, is expected to be complete in time for the team’s first home game, which is scheduled for July 1, 2015.