TFC’s offseason towards the 2020 season has been an absolute rollercoaster. There were some bright spots, some bad spots and some really ugly situations.

THE GOOD

Let’s start with the bright spots. TFC is coming off a fantastic 2019 MLS playoff run as they fell short in their trilogy against the Seattle Sounders. Without the services of  Jozy Altidore and  Omar Gonzalez throughout the entire playoff run, the road looked impossible.  The Reds relied heavily on a rock solid GK in Quentin Westberg and a structurally sound pairing of Chris Mavinga and Lauren Ciman. However, we should not forget the efforts of one of the most impactful players in the Reds’ playoff journey, Richie Laryea. He scored a goal against the thrashing of DC United in extra time.  Also, he drew a penalty very late against NYC FC in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Laryea solidified his value to the team.

THE POZUELO SHOW

In addition, there is by far the best player on TFC in Alejandro Pozuelo. Since coming from Genk in the Belgian First Division A, in 30 games played, Pozuelo had 12 goals and 12 assists. Finally, he has a full season to rest. The Reds’ talisman is a potential MVP candidate this upcoming season and will be an integral part in the success of Toronto FC.

THE YOUTH MOVEMENT

Furthermore, there is the TFC youth movement that took place in the offseason. With the signings of Rocco Romeo, Jayden Nelson, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and the newest bright spot in Ifunanyachi Achara to the first team, Toronto FC’s direction is clearly building a young core for the future. With some depth needed in key positions, there could be playing time for the younger players on the squad to prove themselves.

COMPETITION FOR STARTING LINEUP

Next, there is the midfield battle for TFC. Could we see some more playing time for Jacob Shaffelburg? Will Erickson Gallardo emerge in a full time roll in the starting lineup? Will Tsubasa Endoh continue his 2019 MLS Playoff form? Head Coach Greg Vanney has a tonne of decisions to make.

THE BAD

One of the most frustrating parts of the offseason for Toronto FC was the mismanagement and assessment of the captain, ‘The General,” Michael Bradley. Bradley suffered a “severe and complicated ankle injury” during the MLS Cup Final against Seattle as per TFC GM Ali Curtis. However, he had successful ankle surgery towards the end of January. It makes one wonder what really went down behind the scenes. Jozy Altidore came out publicly and said “.. it was handled poorly.” An injury that was diagnosed two months prior to surgery has cost TFC deeply. Bradley is expected to be out of the lineup until June missing a decent amount of the season.

LIAM FRASER: THIS IS YOUR CHANCE

Greg Vanney is set to replace Bradley with Liam Fraser. Fraser has a tremendous opportunity to make an impact for TFC. Hopefully, he can provide leadership in a position where the “glue” of the team remains in tact, just like The General has done for a very long time.

Michael Bradley addressing the media over the ankle injury.

THE UGLY

The ugliest part of the offseason for Toronto FC was the mishandling of the Designated Player (DP) situation. The Reds gave Michael Bradley TAM money in pursuit for their wide open designated player spot. With Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo already as DPs, TFC was hoping to receive an attacking player that can link well with the two up top. On February 7th, the Reds signed Argentine winger Pablo Piatti to a one-year deal to hopefully fill that void. However, a few weeks later and given his well documented injury history, Piatti was sidelined with a strained hamstring. He did not play any of the five pre-season matches and will miss the opening game of the season this Saturday. This is a tough pill to swallow for Toronto FC; they received a lot of pressure about the long awaited DP signing all offseason.

Toronto FC unveil the signing of Argentine Winger Pablo Piatti.

TFC FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON PREVIEW

Toronto FC will kick off their MLS campaign on the road in sunny California against the San Jose Earthquakes.  TFC will look to quickly rebound from that rough loss to the Seattle Sounders in the 2019 MLS Cup. Facing key injuries, it is interesting to see how TFC handles their starting lineup. The Reds are 3-1-1 in their last five games against San Jose. Look for Alejandro Pozuelo to feast on the Quakes as they were towards the bottom of the league defensively last season. San Jose did not make the playoffs but still have the services of their veteran striker Chris Wondolowski who scored 15 goals for the club last season.

PREDICTION:  Toronto FC 1 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes

Follow the boys in Red all season long with the schedule below.

https://www.torontofc.ca/schedule