TORONTO - Toronto FC has struck a one-year partnership agreement with Wilmington Hammerheads FC which will allow the MLS club to loan players to the North Carolina-based USL Pro team.
The move means Toronto is out of the MLS Reserve League for the 2014 season.
"The deal represents the first time our club has established a full development trajectory for our Academy players from the U12 level up through the first team," Toronto general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement Wednesday.
"On the first team it can be a challenge getting younger players sufficient match experience required for their development during the course of a season. This partnership with Wilmington will allow our players to earn those valuable match minutes and continue their growth during the season in a professional environment in USL Pro. Today we have filled a developmental gap within our club."
Toronto FC will loan a minimum of four players to Wilmington during the 2014 season.
The partnership will give players like 19-year-old TFC goalkeeper Quillan Roberts a chance to get valuable playing minutes. Forward Emery Welshman is another player who would benefit. The 16th overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, Welshman saw just five minutes of league action.