Toronto FC's next big thing? Homegrown Jordan Hamilton finds scoring touch

TORONTO – His name is Jordan Hamilton.

Toronto FC have been waiting for him, and it now appears that he has arrived.

Signed to a Homegrown contract at 17 in 2014, the striker excelled at youth and international levels, and on loan in USL with Wilmington Hammerheads, before stalling somewhat in the Portuguese second division with CD Trofense.

Last season with TFC II, he scored their first-ever goal, but ended the season with just three overall. Prior to 2016, he had accumulated just 14 MLS minutes, despite having made his full international debut against Colombia.

That was then. This is now. An injury to Jozy Altidore and a packed schedule gave Hamilton an opportunity, and the 20-year-old is making the most of it.

In eight appearances over the past month, between MLS and the Amway Canadian Championship, Hamilton has scored four goals, including strikes against Orlando City and Seattle in the club's previous two matches.

“My job is to score,” Hamilton said after his breakout brace against Montreal. “I've been working [hard], waiting to show what I can do. I was ready; tried to seize my opportunity.”

Seize it he did. 

“With both hands,” said Greg Vanney after TFC's weekend draw against Seattle. “He scored a number of goals, competed hard, earned [the chance], regardless of who's here.”

The key development?

“Getting a good sense of who he is as a forward,” said Vanney. “Last year he was trying to do too many things. Now he's settling in [as] a striker, a No. 9.” 

“Incredible engine,” Vanney explained. “It's using it in the right ways and playing big and strong; not getting bumped off by the big centerbacks. He's taking steps forward, getting into positions and finishing. We'll continue to push him. He's got more upside to come.”

Though minutes may be limited with the impending return of Altidore, Hamilton's impressive month has made fans wonder what will happen when Altidore does get back. At the very least, Hamilton's success has shown TFC have more depth at forward than previously thought. 

“I waited a long time, [so now I'm] trying to work my hardest and keep the jersey on my back,” Hamilton said. “Every day I'm learning. That's my job, to get better, so one day I can be the one teaching the young guys.”

“Jozy is a very important piece to our team,” he added. “However the coaches feel I'm needed, I'll be ready to help the team.”