It’s time to see if Jordan Hamilton is ready for his close-up.
In re-signing the 22-year-old Canadian international forward, Toronto FC has made it clear that given the departure of Tosaint Ricketts and Lucas Janson, Hamilton has a chance to stake a claim to being the understudy to star strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.
Hamilton earned US$100,400 in 2018 on the last year of his contract. His new deal wasn’t made official until Wednesday.
“I think this is really an important year for Jordan,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. “He has to take another step forward.”
Hamilton, who had two goals and an assist in 10 league appearances last year, will vie with 18-year-old Ayo Akinola as TFC’s forward in waiting.
“There’s got to be a next guy who’s really ready,” Vanney said. “And the question is, is it going to be Ayo or Jordan.”
“Aside from that, I think Jordan needs to feel the responsibility of having to be accountable to the team for his performances and his results,” he added. “No longer is he a young player who kind of gets this developing pass. He’s got to prove that he’s ready to go now.”
Toronto, which also has 22-year-old Jon Bakero as a depth forward, likely will seek to add to its attacking or play-making options given the departure of Victor Vazquez.
Hamilton has made a combined 51 career appearances in all competitions with 10 goals and five assists. A product of the TFC academy, he has two caps for Canada.
Toronto also re-signed midfielder Tsubasa Endoh. The MLS club did not renew Endoh’s option after the 2017 season, but signed him to a Toronto FC 2 deal last August.
Endoh, 25, was drafted ninth over all by TFC out of the University of Maryland in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. In two seasons with TFC, the Japanese native made 30 appearances with three goals and one assist. He played 28 games for TFC II with 11 goals and three assists.
“He brings us depth and opportunity,” Vanney said.
The TFC coach called Endoh a good soccer player and a sparkplug in the locker-room.
“He’s got a great personality,” Vanney said. “Somehow, he becomes the centre of attention. It’s great to have a guy like that. We probably missed a little bit of that last year.”
Endoh is working on getting his Canadian residency in a bid to avoid having to use one of the team’s coveted international roster spots.
The signings bring Toronto’s first-team roster to 27.