Kobe Franklin is only 19 years old, but in many ways his recent signing with Toronto FC was a long time in coming.
Franklin joined TFC's youth academy in 2017, before moving up to TFC 2 where he played a big role in helping the junior Reds qualify for the playoffs last season for the first time in history. In his debut campaign with TFC 2 in 2021, Franklin was named to the USL League One All-League First Team, and he was a finalist for the USL League One Young Player of the Year and Defender of the Year awards. In total, Franklin scored four goals and tallied six assists during his time with TFC 2.
He was invited to pre-season camp in January for the second year in a row and did enough to impress Bob Bradley that the club inked him to a homegrown contract through 2024, with options for 2025 and 2026. In doing so, the Toronto native became the 32nd player in club history to sign for the first team from the youth academy.
"Kobe was an important player for TFC 2 [in 2022]. He trained with the first team at times; I think he improved as the year went on, and then he had a nice pre-season. It’s nice when you see a young player moving in a good direction," Bradley said.
He added: "He’s got good football instincts. He’s a clever player. He’s got good ideas with the ball. He’s got a knack for stealing passes. There are times defensively when he’s got to be a little bit more intense and recover. At times he’s a little loose with the way he goes about defending. He’s heard a lot about that and now you see him trying to apply himself in these situations more and more."