Season Preview - Toronto FC

Over the last two years, no club has garnered as much praise for their fans as Toronto FC. And rightfully so – they always sell out BMO Field, have rowdy and passionate fans, and support their team through wins and the much more common losses.

Over those two years, they haven’t really had a lot to cheer about. As an expansion club in 2007, they were flat out terrible, and were marginally better in 2008, but still last in the East. A high degree of roster turnover led to the team never really gelling. Toronto really didn’t have an area of strength on the pitch, and had weaknesses everywhere, particularly at forward. This past offseason they’ve continued to rework the roster, but the difference is the number of quality players that have joined the Reds.

First, obviously, is Canadian soccer legend Dwayne De Rosario. The attacking midfielder was picked up from Houston, delighting TFC fans. He’s getting old, but is still a dynamic presence on the field and has moments of brilliance matched by almost nobody in MLS. And he’s getting a chance to be the star for his hometown club. You think he’ll be energized this year?(DeRo is my favorite player in MLS, though, so I’m admittedly biased.)

Toronto made all sorts of other acquisitions. They traded for veteran Canadian defender Adrian Serioux and signed forward Pablo Vitti, a former member of the Argentina U-20 national team. They also had 3 picks in the SuperDraft, and acquired two of the very few college players who can contribute right away – forward O’Brien White and central midfielder Sam Cronin. All this, and they only lost two players who could even contribute somewhat, with one of them being Seattle’s new defender Tyrone Marshall.

There’s a lot of new talent on Toronto, and in some ways they look similar to how the Sounders’ roster is at the moment. Lots of midfield depth and attacking talent, what looks like a good combination at forward (Vitti and Chad Barrett), an old but still solid national team keeper (Greg Sutton, Canada), and a very thin defense. There’s a lot of ingredients there, but will they go together?

Defense is the main worry, as an injury to any one starter would create a huge talent drop-off. But the thing I’m most curious about is how De Rosario will work with Amado Guevara, who is Toronto’s current attacking midfielder and is pretty good in his own right. What type of formation will accommodate them both? Can they work together and still share the ball with the rest of the midfield? Hard to say. And they will probably still struggle to contend. But it’s clear that Toronto – just like Seattle – will at a minimum be a very entertaining team to watch.

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