Toronto FC: 5 things to know about both Jalen Watson and Charlie Sharp
By Paul Taylor
Toronto FC has not traditionally had the best of success when it comes to the MLS SuperDraft. In fact, as per Benjamin Baer of mlssoccer.com, you have to go back to their first ever pick of Maurice Edu in 2007 for arguably the most successful selection in franchise history.
Of course the irony is not lost that Edu found the majority of his success after leaving Southern Ontario. On the flip side, New York Red Bulls' 2006 draft pick Jozy Altidore had tremendous success with TFC, who are now hoping to repeat the trick with 2012 FC Dallas selection Matt Hedges.
With all this in mind, the 2023 edition of the MLS SuperDraft took place last week, with Reds fans wondering who their club would select. Some of the anticipation was taken away by having no first round pick, which was given up after trading for former TFC acadamey member Mark-Anthony Kaye earlier in the year.
Regardless, Toronto FC did go on to make a couple of intriguing picks, selecting defender Jalen Watson in the second round and forward Charlie Sharp in the third. Here are five things to know about each player.
Taking a closer look at the two selections by Toronto FC in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, Canadian defender Jalen Watson from Penn State and American forward Charlie Sharp of Western Michigan.
1) Watson will right away have the fans behind him, as a native of Mississauga. He was the fifth of seven Canadians picked in the 2023 SuperDraft. (19 Canadians had been declared as draft eligible.)
2) The 22-year-old spent four seasons at Pennsylvania State University, starting 51 of the 59 games he played in. As played a combined 4,243 minutes and scored one goal to go along with three assists.
3) As per Penn State's official sports site, Watson picked up a number of individual accolades, including being named to the 2019 named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. In his senior year, he started all 16 games for the Nittany Lions and was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
4) The defender was one of three Nittany Lions selected in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. As per TFC's communications department, prior to playing at Penn State he spent two seasons at the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
5) At 6 foot and 165 pounds, Watson may well look to bulk up a little more, to better deal with the physical demands of the game. His first season will be focused on gaining experience with TFC II and learning more about what he is capable of.
1) Sharp is an American who hails from Brighton, Michigan. Selected 61st overall by Toronto FC, he was one of 50 Americans picked during the three rounds of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft.
2) Attending Western Michigan, like Watson the 21-year-old spent four seasons at university. He started 50 of the 69 games he played, totalling 4,454 minutes on the pitch.
3) As per the Broncos' official site, Sharp had a combined 23 goals and 14 assists during his four seasons at Western Michigan. His best season was his senior year, when he set career-highs of 11 goals and eight assists.
4) In 2019, the forward was named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year and earned All-MAC First Team honors. As per torontofc.ca, he was named to the All-MAC First Team, All-Region First Team and Academic All-America Second Team during his senior year.
5) To give some idea of Sharp's ability to rise to the occasion, consider that he was named MVP of the MAC tournament in 2022. In the process, he helped the Broncos win their second ever Mid-American Conference Championship.
What is your opinion of the two draft picks by Toronto FC? Who do you predict has the stronger chance of breaking into the first team? Let us know in the comments section below.