TORONTO – It’s been quite a year for teenage goalie Quillan Roberts.
Last June, he made history when he scored against England at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. And now the 17-year-old ‘keeper has been elevated to Toronto FC’s main roster from the MLS side’s academy.
“It’s a good feeling — being noticed and coming up through the academy,” Roberts told reporters Tuesday.
Roberts gets his chance in the absence of backup Stefan Frei, who will be out for four to six months after breaking his fibula and damaging ankle ligaments March 24 in training.
Toronto FC has been using Brian Rowe, one of the league’s pool goalies, as a backup to Milos Kocic but Rowe is currently helping out in Portland. He is expected back in Toronto after his stint with the Timbers.
“We need a third goalkeeper and he’s a youth player with a lot of potential,” said Toronto coach Aron Winter.
Born Sept. 13, 1994, Roberts becomes the fifth-youngest player currently on the MLS books. The youngest is Chivas midfielder Marky Delgado who turns 17 on May 16.
Roberts, the youngest goalie currently in the league, is the seventh player in Toronto FC history to sign with the first team from the academy program.
By signing an MLS contract, Roberts has closed the door on the NCAA.
“A lot of thought went into this decision,” he said. “I think this is the right one for me.”
A Grade 12 student, Roberts catches up on school via “co-ops and online courses.”
“I don’t get to go in a lot,” he said.
He says he’s “a little bit behind, but I have time and it will be finished.”
Roberts, six foot and 193 pounds, will wear No. 40 for Toronto.
Roberts entered the record books at the FIFA U-17 World Cup when he boomed a kick from just inside his side of the halfway line with time winding down and Canada trailing 2-1 to England in Pachuca, Mexico.
The ball bounced over a pair of players trying to get their head onto it and into the net over the lunging English goalie.
It was the first goal by a goalkeeper in any FIFA 11-a-side finals competition.
The 87th-minute goal also gave Canada a 2-2 tie and its first point at the under-17 tournament after 14 straight losses.
Roberts only got the start after star goalie Maxime Crepeau suffered a knee injury in the dying minutes of Canada’s opening loss to Uruguay.
Roberts says a couple of people noticed him in the airport after his goalscoring heroics “but that was about it.”
Roberts has seen action for TFC already. He was part of a largely reserve side that lost 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in early March in the final of the pre-season Disney Pro Soccer Classic.
Most of Toronto’s first-stringers had already left Florida by then to prepare for a CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final with the Los Angeles Galaxy.