After months of speculation of whether or not he might land in the Canadian Premier League, Mo Babouli has finally arrived.
Forge FC announced Tuesday that they’ve signed the 27-year-old Babouli after the former Toronto FC player impressed the coaching staff while training with the Hamilton-based club since June. Babouli has been following the CPL’s health and safety self-isolation protocols with his new teammates ahead of the 2020 regular season in Prince Edward Island.
“Mo is a player I know very well and one who will fit in right away with the way we play, adding further quality to our attacking group,” Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis said.
Babouli will be a recognizable name to many Canadian soccer fans, having first turned heads with the Canadian under-23 team. The native of Mississauga, Ont., played for Canada at both the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto (where he scored the host nation’s only goal of the tournament, against Brazil).
He also suited up for Les Rouges that same year in the Concacaf Olympic qualifiers, alongside new Forge teammate Jonathan Grant.
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Babouli found his way to the professional game through the Toronto FC academy (plus college stints with Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta and Sheridan College in Ontario). He made his first-team debut with TFC in 2016 and went on to make 16 MLS appearances, winning the Voyageurs Cup in his first season with the Reds.
After being released by TFC in mid-2017, Babouli played briefly for Sigma FC in League1 Ontario before signing with Al-Ittihad in Syria (where he is a citizen through his parents). Babouli returned to Canada in 2019 to play for Canadian Soccer League side FC Ukraine United, where he scored 11 goals in seven games, before ultimately seeking a CPL contract.
Babouli lined up primarily as a centre-forward when he played for TFC, although he is also capable of slotting in at the wing or as an attacking midfielder. He’ll add yet another dynamic, versatile element to the Forge attack.
Forge now has 22 players signed to their squad, with Babouli just the sixth newcomer added to the CPL champions’ roster for the 2020 season. He’ll join a forward group that includes Anthony Novak, Marcel Zajac, Chris Nanco, Kadell Thomas and 2019 CPL draft pick Gabriel Balbinotti.