Today we will look at Toronto FC, who over these past couple months have added important pieces to their team. Important enough that people will start to consider this team a contender in the MLS this season, and not a pretender.
For most parts of last season, Toronto FC were carried by the little Italian, Sebastian Giovinco. Seba was Toronto FC. Despite making the playoffs for the first time in the clubs history (which ended quickly because of a 3-0 loss to Montreal) Toronto still had holes and many things to fix. The first thing, for me was the overall depth of the squad. TFC hugely relied on Giovinco to create moments of magic nearly every game. It seemed like without him, nothing was happening. Secondly was the defensive situation. Toronto FC were terrible at the back and an abomination considering those are actual players that get paid to do that as a profession. The defense cost them tons of games (Toronto 4-4 NYCFC comes to mind along with many more). And against Montreal in the playoffs, it was no different. Actually, both of those flaws I pointed out were on complete display that night.
Toronto knew they had to make some changes in order to improve this team. Step forward GK Clint Irwin, DEF Steven Beitashour, DEF Drew Moor and MID Will Johnson. They drafted Tsubasa Endoh 9th overall in the draft, who from first impressions looks like a solid midfielder. He was voted the Major League Soccer combine MVP. So Toronto bring in a goalkeeper and some very good defenders, fixing that hole. Clint Irwin in anyway you put it is an upgrade on Bendik and Konopka. Last season Toronto had to play 9 different right-backs and Jackson was used as a right-back. Erm no. Beitashour comes in as a well respected right-back in MLS and completely fixes that problem, which might have been the biggest. Then there's Moor, someone who's very well known in MLS and brings everything Toronto needed in a center back. A good defender who can lead the defense. I'm interested to see his partner, I'd be looking at TFC II defender and 2015 9th overall pick Clement Simonin to possibly make the jump full time. His debut last year was great and got praise from coach Vanney and other players. If he can take his chances and stay healthy, (missed a lot last year due to injury) him and Moor are an option, but it's likely to be Moor and Prequis, which makes the most sense. Canadian midfielder Will Johnson will bring some much needed depth in the midfield. It will be interesting to see where this years draft pick Endoh will be used this season.
This team is not complete; there are still some things to fix no doubt. But this team has definitely improved enough where we can start asking the question if this team is ready. This transfer window the team didn't make any big headline signings but they brought in important pieces to improve the little things that kept holding them back from contending last season. Irwin, Beitashour and Moor definitely fix the teams biggest holes while Johnson brings great depth.
The market isn't over and they have been linked with a move for Italian striker Marco Borriello. The former Milan, Roma and Juve striker has had a respectful career in Serie A and the 33 year old would definitely bring in some attacking depth, especially if Luke Moore goes back to England as it's been reported. It seems unlikely in my opinion, but we'll see what happens.
This season is a very highly anticipated one for both Toronto FC and the TFC fans since with their new signings they definitely feel that they might finally have a team that could contend and make noise in the MLS.
Possible TFC XI: Irwin; Beitashour, Moor, Prequis, Morrow; Osorio, Cheyrou, Warner, Bradley; Jozy Altidore, Giovinco. (4-4-2 diamond)