Spencer signs first-team contract with Toronto, offers different look off bench

Spencer signs first-team deal with Toronto FC

TORONTO — Ben Spencer has signed with Toronto FC, moving up from Toronto FC 2 to give the senior side a different kind of striker off the bench.

At six foot five, the 22-year-old Spencer is a target man with good feet.

“It’s a great feeling,” Spencer said of signing a first-team deal, “It’s what I’ve been working towards since I’ve came to the club in 2015.

Able to hold the ball up and bring others into play, Spencer is cut from a different cloth from a speedster like Tosaint Ricketts when coach Greg Vanney needs to bring someone on for Jozy Altidore or Sebastian Giovinco.

The signing caps a remarkable comeback from a rare knee injury that threatened to derail a promising career that saw Spencer star with the U.S. under-20 team.

Spencer left home at age 15 to pursue soccer, working his way through the U.S. youth ranks and earning a contract with Molde FK in Norway as an 18-year-old under then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a Norwegian and Manchester United legend.

His injury nightmare started in 2014 when he tore his meniscus playing on loan in the NASL. He subsequently underwent another round of arthroscopic surgery.

After parting ways with Molde, Spencer found a home in Toronto where his problem right knee started swelling up again. Chicago orthopedic surgeon Brian Cole eventually diagnosed a rare condition where the meniscus is so worn that a hole develops, with the swelling coming from cartilage damage.

Spencer needed cartilage replacement â€” and to have his femur re-aligned to alter the weight-bearing in his knee.

He underwent surgery in September 2015. It was nine months before Spencer could run or jump and another three months before he could finally take the field for Toronto FC 2’s last two games of the 2016 USL season.

“I always knew I’d get over it,” he said of the injuries. “It was just a matter of some hard work and some long days.” 

Vanney was scouting for U.S. Soccer’s youth teams when he first spotted Spencer and recommended the Albuquerque native to the under-15 program. A year later, Vanney was involved with Real Salt Lake’s fledgling residency program and invited Spencer to join.

Vanney moved to Chivas USA in California and Spencer eventually followed, living for six months with the Vanney family.

Spencer arrived in Toronto with shoulder-length hair but now sports a buzzcut, cutting it off for charity.  

His status as a homegrown player carries over to Toronto from Real Salt Lake.

 

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

 

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Recovery centre operator said neighbours bought property ‘in haste’

Penticton addiction recovery centre plan halted by neighbours

Attempted carjacking at Penticton mall

A 24-year-old man is in custody, while a 37-year-old woman was uninjured by the incident

Fundraising effort for man assaulted at Penticton nightclub

A GoFundMe account was created to assist the Penticton man that was assaulted

Osoyoos looking at two more councillors

The increase would take council from five to seven members, on par with their neighbours in Oliver

Forgoing Christmas gifts to help the Salvation Army

Penticton group gives to Salvation Army

Sagmoen case adjourned, again

Small, yet mighty, rally again on Vernon courthouse steps

Performance embodies true meaning of Christmas

Caravan Farm Theatre presents O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi by Maristella Roca until Dec. 31

Family of Vancouver Island RCMP officer killed by drunk driver sues

Lawsuit seeks financial compensation from Kenneth Jacob Fenton

SPCA seizes 74 animals from Barriere property

Constables removed sheep, piglets, chickens and more

Victoria gets approval for supervised consumption site

It is scheduled to open in the spring/summer of 2018 and will be the first permanent facility on Vancouver Island

Bear spray used in tenant dispute

Salmon Arm RCMP responding to Tappen home invasion find occupants sprayed in repllent

Home services, rental rates top concerns: B.C. seniors’ watchdog

Premier John Horgan pledges action on rental housing in 2018

‘Game-changing’ B.C.-born technology tests brain vital signs

B.C. neuroscientist describes the tech as ‘the world’s first objective physiological yard stick for brain function’

5-year anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting

When just saying ‘I’m from Newtown’ can be a cross to bear

Most Read