Toronto FC announced Saturday that they've signed Tsubasa Endoh, their first-round pick during the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
"He has done a great job of integrating into the group and has been a solid contributor thus far,” said Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko in a statement. “He is a player that we have liked for some time and one with a great amount of upside. We are excited to get this deal done and have Tsubasa as a member of Toronto FC.”
Indeed, Endoh, who went ninth overall in the MLS SuperDraft, has already proved his worth during Toronto's preseason. He's appeared in seven of the club's matches throughout, scoring in one.
Previous to being drafted, though, 22-year-old Endoh distinguished himself for both his college and his country. At the University of Maryland, he earned Big Ten Championship Most Valuable Offensive Player, Second Team All-Big Ten Selection and was named Big Ten Conference Player to watch. And in his native Japan, he made the national team squad at the U-12, U-13, U-14, U-15, and U-17 levels.
But it has hardly been an easy path. In 2011, while living in Fukushima, Endoh and his family survived Japan's devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami, ultimately having to leave the town over radiation concerns. He detailed his struggles and triumphs to MLSsoccer.com this past January at the 2016 adidas MLS Player Combine--where he also earned an MVP nod.