Transaction tracker: Adam Pearlman signs with TFC

The 18-year-old defender becomes the 33rd player in club history to graduate from the youth academy to the senior team.

Transaction tracker: Adam Pearlman signs with TFC
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The transaction tracker at TFC Republic is a special feature where we will list all the roster additions and cuts, trades, signings and re-signings, and transfers made by Toronto FC, and examine what each move means for the club moving forward. 

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Toronto FC transaction tracker
The transaction tracker at TFC Republic is a special feature where we will list all of the roster moves made by Toronto FC.

Feb. 24, 2024: Toronto FC signs Adam Pearlman   

Toronto FC signed defender Adam Pearlman to a first team contract as a homegrown player through 2027 with an option for 2028.  

Quick analysis: Toronto FC has added more defensive depth with the signing of Pearlman, an 18-year-old defender who becomes the 33rd player in club history to graduate from the youth academy to the senior team. 

“We are happy to have Adam continue his football growth with us as a homegrown [signing] signing this season. Adam has been a standout performer at both the Academy and MLS NEXT Pro platforms while also representing his country at the international level," GM Jason Hernandez said in a media release.  

Pearlman spent the past two seasons with TFC 2 where he made 48 appearances, including 47 starts. Last season, he was signed to a short-term loan by Toronto FC and made his MLS debut as a substitute against St. Louis City SC on July 8.  

Toronto-based journalist James Grossi is the foremost authority on TFC 2, having covered the team in an in-depth fashion for several years. He describes Pearlman as a "modern defender."

"He has the physicality required, but it is his ability to read the play, see problems as they develop, and snuff them out before they become true chances [that stands out]. He also involves himself in both that initial ball as a team crafts exits out of their end and in utilizing possession as the side looks for gaps in the opponent's defensive block that makes him a worthy prospect," Grossi told TFC Republic.

He originally signed with TFC II on April 8, 2022, and during his debut season with the Young Reds he was named to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and helped TFC 2 qualify for the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In 2023, Pearlman played in 26 games (25 starts) and logged a team-high 2,233 minutes. 

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Pearlman and his family later moved to Canada, and he originally joined TFC's youth academy in 2016. 

Pearlman becomes the latest TFC 2 player to graduate to the MLS side, following in the footsteps of Alonso Coello, Kobe Franklin and Luka Gavran (who all made the same jump last year), Luca Petrasso, Kosi Thompson, Themi Antonoglou and Hugo Mbongue (2022) and Jordan Perruzza and Luke Singh (2021). 

Pearlman is considered one of Toronto's brightest prospects, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that he landed an MLS contract. Still, this is a long-term signing; he's seen more as a player for the future than someone who can make an impact in the short-term. Given Pearlman's age and experience, he'll likely be used as a depth player this season and will see limited minutes, and he could even be sent back on loan to TFC 2 throughout the 2024 MLS NEXT Pro season. 

"This is the natural next step for the young man. Two years ago with TFC 2 he was the young guy on the back line, he came in and did his job well. Last season he was tasked with being the leader of an even younger back-line and rose to the occasion more times than not. The jump to MLS is a big one, and I don't expect him to see a ton of action this year. But just being in the first team environment, training every day with seasoned pros, will see him continue to develop so that when his chance comes he can be ready to seize it," Grossi said.

Pearlman is the 29th player on Toronto FC's squad for the 2024 season. The MLS roster limit is 30.

(Top photo courtesy of Toronto FC)

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