With Jason Kreis‘ Lions signing Toia from Atlanta United in exchange for their natural first-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, the left back is an immediate replacement for Mikey Ambrose who joined Gerardo Martino’s side yesterday.
Speaking after Toia’s signature yesterday, Orlando City SC General Manager Niki Budalic claimed the defender is an “athletic fullback with MLS experience that will fit into Jason (Kreis’) style.”
But as the 24-year-old embarks on his new chapter in Central Florida, Orlando City UK have taken this moment to devise a list of FIVE things you didn’t know about the Lions new boy Donny Toia.
He started his career as a forward
Having appeared 75 times in Major League Soccer to date, Donny Toia has played most of these games at left back but he actually started in an entirely different position when making his first steps as a pro.
An Arizona native, Donny Toia was born in the city of Tucson and during his time in youth soccer at the Tucson Soccer Academy, he actually performed as a striker.
He was Real Salt Lake’s first ever Homegrown Player
Although Real Salt Lake have been a Major League Soccer franchise since the 2005 season, it was actually six years later in 2011 whereby the Claret and Cobalt named Donny Toia as their first ever Homegrown Player.
And back in March 2011, it was Toia’s athleticism and jumping ability that stood out for RSL General Manager Garth Lagerwey.
Both he and Tommy Redding share this in common
And that is the fact that both players enjoyed their first team breakthroughs within their own respective hometowns.
Redding is a native of Oviedo, Orlando and enjoyed his Lions first team debut in USL back in 2014 while Tucson-born Toia made 15 appearances for semi-professional outfit FC Tucson after not receiving his chance at RSL.
He’s already scored against Orlando City SC
A Montreal Impact player since 2015, the left back started all THREE regular season meetings between Impact and the Lions in our inaugural season, scoring a fine header in Impact’s 2-0 win over Adrian Heath‘s men in June 2015.
Yeah, it was against us, but this Donny Toia header is ?.
Welcome to Orlando! Now just do this against the bad guys, ok? pic.twitter.com/MNH3x6vkeu
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) December 14, 2016
With Impact undefeated in two of those three meetings, we all hope Toia can help lock down our backline in 2017 although he did also start in the Lions’ unforgettable 1-4 triumph over the Quebec side at Saputo Stadium in September.
He’s previously been involved in an MLS Dispersal Draft
Prior to joining Montreal Impact, the other Major League Soccer outfit Donny Toia represented was the now extinct Chivas USA.
Toia ended up making 27 appearances for the Carson-based side and back in 2014 when the franchise dissolved, the defender was part of what’s called an MLS Dispersal Draft.
Essentially, this particular draft ensures players contracted to folded clubs are able to be distributed to new pastures.
With a dispersal draft having not re-occurred since given Chivas USA are the most recent MLS side to fold, the 2014 MLS Dispersal Draft took place in November of that year whereby Toia was picked up by Impact.