If there wasn’t already enough depth at the top of the pitch for York United, Theo Afework bolstered that. It seems as though, if any blow occurs at striker or centre-forward, someone will be up for the job. Angus McNab’s latest addition may not be fully healthy by the time the season starts but when you come back to the deal, one or two or maybe even three years on, this puzzle piece will be integral in the path that York will take.
The Calgary native was brought up by what was at the time the best of the West, football-wise. In his formative years, he played for the Calgary Rangers and Calgary Foothills, and good play there resulted in a breakthrough transfer to the Vancouver Whitecaps academy in 2012. He stayed until January 2022. Afework is a number nine, and with the amount of Swiss Army Knife attackers in the Nine Stripes team you would assume he is true of the number, but there aren’t enough videos or highlight packages to prove one way or another.
Afework then made what is always a bold decision: continue his development by jumping across the pond and venturing into Europe. He chose Germany and joined FC Nürnberg’s youth sides, appearing 3 times in the U19 Bundesliga during his announcement campaign. This season is where he would have been noticed. Participating in seven contests between the league and youth cup, Afework assisted twice and scored once, that lone goal coming in the clutch as a last-gasp winner against no pushover: RB Leipzig’s U19 squad. “He’s performed very well in Germany,” said McNab. “In many ways, he’s plotting a similar course to Ronan Kratt in coming back to Canada having played at a good level overseas.”
A career path is not the only similarity between Afework and Kratt.
Both are U21 Canadians, meaning that their play will go toward the 2000 minutes that must be played by those players. (The other U21s are goalkeeper Eleias Himaras and midfielder Markiyan Votysekhovskyy.) Kratt will be returning from a loan at Werder Bremen this July, and Afework will likely – albeit unfortunately – take the pitch for the first time in a York shirt around the start of the summer too. Afework required surgery on a quadricep, not due to any injury. He is on track to recovery and will stay in Europe while he sees it out. McNab is grateful for this: “I can’t praise FC Nürnberg enough for their role in this. Theo needed surgery to tidy up an issue with his quad and the care and diligence they have shown to ensure he returns to us as quickly as possible and with the best medical support is simply impeccable.
“There will be plenty of time for him to make an impact on the 2023 season.”
S. 2 Ep. 13 – The Final Is Set – FC13 Podcast
Afework has featured for Canada at the 2019 Concacaf U15 Championship, scoring one goal in five matches.
The outstanding confidence is coming from all parties surrounding Afework. It is hard not to buy into that spirit knowing where he has been. And with him going into his personal, smaller, campaign, I’m sure that his feelings and hopes are high also knowing that a nagging issue is being resolved.
Adding to the hype train, coach Martin Nash is a firm believer in Afework. “Theo is an athletic and physical young striker with a lot of upside.”
The potential will ease into results not instantaneously (we won’t kid, this will be his first year of professional football, a big adjustment) but over time. That is the key element of the contract. Whether De Rosario graduates to a far bigger club (as he is expected to do) or Brian Wright isn’t enough on his own, a two-year (plus a 12-month club option) bond is a welcome sign since most CPL contracts are short and sadly not always sweet.
Afework is dedicated to this club now and will be a starter soon enough. The signs are promising, and the road that they’re directing us to looks wonderful.
Top photo via CanPL.ca
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