April 16, 2024
  • April 16, 2024

Return Of The Kings? TFC Academy Returns To League1 Ontario

By on March 23, 2024 0 1106 Views

League1 Ontario’s head office confirmed Saturday that the final spot in the League1 Ontario Championship – previously held by the 2019 iteration of Pickering FC – will be filled by the TFC Academy.

As previously reported by Northern Tribune in December 2023, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will be entering their MLS outfits’ youth development squad into the provinces pro-am league for the 2024 after a five year hiatus.

“We are both excited and proud to join League1 Ontario for the upcoming outdoor season,” said TFC Academy Director Anthony Capotosto in a press release. “League1 provides a quality competition platform for player development and opportunities for growth for coaches and other support staff.”

Alongside this announcement, the league also confirmed the Academy’s participation in the 2024 edition of the L1 Cup, with the North Toronto Nitros will playing host to TFC in the first round, having previously labeled TFC’s slot as “TBC”.

TFC Academy’s place in the Championship table had been up in the air for some time and was delayed due to disagreements with the business end of operations.

A league source revealed to Northern Tribune back in December that there was some contention between club and league officials in regards to the license’s term as well as sponsorship, namely with how BMO is a major sponsor of TFC while CIBC supports League1 Ontario and its parent company, Canadian Soccer Business.

2024 will mark five years since the TFC Academy last participated in the L1O premier division(s), having been one of the ten founding teams of the league back in 2014.

In said inaugural season, the Downsview-based side – also known as TFC III – won the first-ever league regular season title, going undefeated with a record of 11W-0L-5D and capturing the Golden Boot with now-York United forward Mo Babouli netting 21 goals.

This Championship would qualify them for the Inter-Provincial Cup versus the winners of the PLSQ (now Ligue1 Quebec). Taking on CS Longueuil, TFC III would claim that title as well with a 4-0 aggregate victory.

These would mark the club’s only two titles at the L1 level before their departure prior to the 2019 season, when MLSE moved their Academy to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy (USSDA), which would later merge with the American-based MLS NEXT youth league.

The 2024 League1 Ontario season is due to kick off in April with the regular season and the first round of the L1 Cup. This year will be the first year of a tiered pyramid within L1O as three divisions of teams will be taking part in a promotion and relegation system. The arrival of TFC Academy as the final team to be confirmed is surely to be followed by a league schedule in the coming days.

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