The 0-0 Group C draw between Toronto FC and the New England Revolution will be remembered for a debut than for its final scoreline.
Highly touted, 20-year-old Toronto midfielder Noble Okello entered in the 68th minute for Marky Delgado to earn his first MLS minutes, although he’s previously appeared for Toronto FC in friendlies and Canadian Championship action. His MLS debut comes months after he earned his first cap with the Canadian senior national team in January.
“I’ve been wanting to get Noble on for the last couple of games,” Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney revealed postgame. “I’m happy for him. He needs to keep working hard, growing his game and keep filling into himself and he’s going to be just fine. He’s a player with a ton of upside and we’re really pleased with the growth he’s had especially in the last month to month and a half.
“Since we’ve come back from this pandemic break he’s put in a lot of work. He’s starting to grow into himself and really develop power in his frame. He’s got an incredible profile as a player and a midfielder, and a presence about him in terms of his size. For me it was just allowing him some time to grow into himself so he could use some of that power and really open up in some of these spaces and play strong and physical.“
Okello is a native of Toronto and came through the Toronto FC academy and Toronto FC II in USL before signing a Homegrown contract in January 2019. Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg reportedly made an offer to acquire Okello before he formally signed with TFC and that bid was turned down by the club.
The 6-foot-4 midfielder was on the field with another Toronto academy product making waves: Ayo Akinola, who has 5 goals in the MLS is Back Tournament, was more than thrilled to share the stage.
“I’ve known him since I was 14,” Akinola said. “I’m very happy and proud of him and I hope he continues this path.”
The other homegrown players currently on the Toronto FC roster also include: Liam Fraser, Julian Dunn, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jayden Nelson, Rocco Romeo, Jacob Shaffelburg and Jonathan Osorio.