Toronto FC signed their third homegrown player in as many days Thursday, adding 17-year-old forward Jayden Nelson to the first-team roster.
Following in the footsteps of 19-year-old defender Rocco Romeo and 15-year-old midfielder Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Nelson becomes the 23rd player in club history to sign for the first team from the Toronto academy.
it's been a dizzying nine months for the youngster from Brampton, Ont.
He made his pro debut with Toronto FC 2 last April, turned 17, represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and was named Canadian Youth International Player of the Year. He kicked off 2020 by making his senior debut Jan. 7 and scoring his first goal three days later in a pair of 4-1 wins over Barbados.
“Jayden is an incredible young player. Very explosive and dynamic. Not afraid to take players on in the attacking third," GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. "We love his mentality — humble but confident.
"Jayden has all the tools to be a top player. He’s only 17, so we need to be measured with his development, but we believe he can be a very important player for both club and country," Curtis added.
The five-foot-seven, 145-pounder appeared in 14 matches for Toronto FC II during the 2019 USL League One regular season.
Nelson's signing brings the TFC first-team roster to 27 players, of whom 12 are 24 or under. The MLS club, currently at training camp in Florida, continues its search for a designated player.
Nelson played at the 2017 CONCACAF Boys' Under-15 Championship and then helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later that year with five goals in six games at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
He started all three games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup against Brazil, Angola and New Zealand and was named man of the match against New Zealand.
His preferred position is left wing, although he likes to roam inside. Nelson is a shifty player with smart vision, able to take players on and dip into his bag of tricks when needed.
On and off the pitch, Nelson is easy to spot with a shock of hair usually bursting out of a headband and sometimes sporting colour. Some have dubbed him the Canadian Valderrama after former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2020.
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