Babouli, a 24-year-old native of Mississauga, Ont., showed flashes of creativity during his brief tenure with the club, but the goals never came, and the opportunities quickly dried up.
His departure hardly comes as a surprise, as the Canadian had fallen down the depth chart, and he likely wasn’t going to get much playing time with payers the calibre of Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and fellow Canadian Tosaint Ricketts ahead of him.
Babouli’s journey from college player to MLS pro was an amazing story.
In 2013, Babouli was attending Sheridan College in Oakville where he played for the school’s team, while also turning out for the Dixie Soccer Club, based in Mississauga. He was thinking about a future that didn’t include soccer when his big break came. A game between Dixie and Toronto FC’s Academy side led to him joining the team’s youth system the following year. He followed that up with a stint at TFC 2, the MLS team’s farm club, in 2015.
Babouli was invited to pre-season camp in 2016, and was so impressive that he was signed to an MLS contract by TFC just ahead of the start of the regular season.
“There were bumps along the way. I never expected to be here in the first place. Now that I’m here, I look back and [think] it’s just been a crazy ride,” Babouli told Sportsnet last May.
In only his second MLS start, Babouli was named man of the match for TFC in a 0-0 draw against the Columbus Crew at home.
“He’s blossoming before our eyes. He’s showing what I’ve always said about him — when you put a challenge in front of Mo… he figures out a way and works his way through to rise to the level [needed],” coach Greg Vanney said at the time.
But Babouli found the going very tough – he made 16 regular season appearances last season (six as a starter), tallying one assist. An ankle injury meant he didn’t play a single minute through the Reds’ first six games of the 2017 campaign.