Toronto FC young striker Jordan Hamilton looks to make the most of his chances
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TORONTO — Two shots, two goals. Jordan Hamilton has made the most of his 64 minutes of league action with Toronto FC this year.
The latest was a delightful glancing header that sealed Toronto's 2-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday night.
Ten minutes after coming on in the 75th minute, Hamilton headed to the near post on a Sebastian Giovinco corner with veteran defender Steve Birnbaum hot in pursuit. Hamilton won the race and, from the edge of the six-yard box while heading towards the byline, flicked a header from an acute angle that beat Bill Hamid to the far side of the goal.
A snooker pro would have nodded his head in appreciation at the setup and execution.
Finding himself in front of the rabid south-side fans at BMO Field after his scoring run, Hamilton pointed to his ear and then gestured for applause. The crowd happily delivered. While he may be soft-spoken, Hamilton has a striker's appreciation for a big stage.
But being a forward at TFC these days is like being a car in Jay Leno's garage. There are plenty of ways to get where you want to go.
There are world-class options in the form of a sleek Ferrari in Giovinco and an American muscle car in Jozy Altidore. Tosaint Ricketts and Ben Spencer offer different looks.
"The reality of being a forward on our team is not always easy," said captain Michael Bradley. "In my opinion we have the two best forwards in the league."
Then there's the local boy.
At times, it's easy to forget that Hamilton is just 21. He joined the TFC academy at 15 and made his MLS debut in the 2014 season.
But he has had to bide his time,
Hamilton has five career goals and two assists in 21 league appearances (11 starts) for a total of 989 minutes. He has two goals and two assists in six Canadian Championship games (four starts).
"Jordan has big talent," said Bradley. "He's a young player but he's a player who little by little is getting big experience under his belt.
"When you look back the last few years at his goals-per-minute ratio, I don't know it exactly but my guess is it's pretty impressive. His knack in terms of getting on the end of plays and scoring goals is really good.
"And we continue to challenge him every day to improve his total package so that he's a more complete forward, he's a guy who the team can count on in the toughest of moments."
Bradley, who does not hand out compliments lightly, wasn't finished.
"He's an unbelievable kid. He has a personality. He's funny. He has a huge heart and every guy on the inside of this locker-room cares for him in a big way. And we all see the talent he has.
"And now it's up to him, but it's also up to us to continue to push it along in the right ways."
Vanney delivers the same message as Bradley. Hamilton is a talented athlete who needs to work on "his contribution over longer stretches of the game."
But the scoring skills are there. Vanney says he's got a "good nose for the goal" and a "special knack for being in the right place when it's goalscoring moments."
"He's going to be a guy who can score a lot of goals in this league, I think, but it's continuing to grow and develop and learn from the two guys in front of him," Vanney added.
With a salary of US$81,957.50 this season, Hamilton's two goals come at a bargain cost of $40,978.75 each.
For those wondering — and it's a comparison that means nothing given the fear he puts in opposing defences and everything else he brings to the table — Giovinco's six goals this season have come with an individual price tag of US$1,185,925.94
On the international front, Hamilton has risen through the Canadian under-17, under-20 and under-23 ranks and has two senior caps.
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