After finishing the 2017 Premier Development League season ranked at No. 9 on the current edition of the PDL Top Prospects list, Tobenna Uzo has taken the leap to the professional ranks after officially signing with the United Soccer League's Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Tuesday.
After a standout PDL season with the Myrtle Beach Mutiny, including an impressive hat-trick and one assist performance in the team's 6-2 win against the Wilmington Hammerheads, Uzo takes the next step in what has been a prolific playing career.
"After a strong 2017 season with the Myrtle Beach Mutiny, we're thrilled to see Toby Uzo move on into the professional ranks," PDL Director Todd Eason told USLPDL.com. "It's great to see players within our Top Prospect list receive recognition and Toby has more than deserved this opportunity. We wish him all the best as he joins Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and are eager to see what he can do in the USL and beyond."
Created in 2015, the PDL Top Prospects list has identified and highlighted numerous Under-23 talents within the league before they made their professional debuts. Among the notable alumni named to the lists include Philadelphia Union talents Keegan Rosenberry and Adam Najem, New York Red Bulls midfielder Arun Basuljevic, Toronto FC midfielder Sergio Camargo, Real Salt Lake midfielder Jose Hernandez, Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent, and Minnesota United forward Abu Danladi.
The USL Scouting Network is made up of 20 scouts, which includes head coaches, technical directors and coaching directors, across North America. The network provides the PDL with valuable insight on players based on their performance and impact in the PDL, their technical and tactical qualities and their potential to play at the professional level.
"First of all, I want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus because signing with Colorado Springs is up there as one of my biggest accomplishments in my life, it is a true blessing,” said Uzo. “I also want to thank coach Kyle Russell, Coastal Carolina University, the Mutiny, and Coast FA for giving me the chance to be apart of the family for the last few years. The love and support from the local families, fans and youth players will follow me forever."
Uzo enjoyed a very productive 2017 season with the Mutiny, racking up an impressive 13 goals and three assists over the 14 game regular season that saw the team win the South Atlantic Division title. Despite a five shot, 90 minute effort from Uzo in the playoffs, the Mutiny were eliminated from PDL Championship contention by the Long Island Rough Riders in the first round. That bountiful offensive skill-set is one that Switchbacks FC coach Steve Trittschuh is eager to put to good use.
"He [Uzo] is a big target player that can score with his head as well as his feet, so it is something different that we have not had at that position," said Trittschuh. "I expect him to come in and help us the rest of the season and help get us into the playoffs."
Prior to his time with the Mutiny, Uzo played his senior season of college soccer at Coastal Carolina, where the forward guided the Chanticleers to a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance. He was also named to TopDrawerSoccer's National Team of the Week twice, and was honored as part of the All-Big South First Team for his performances.