Skip to content

Major League Soccer team previews: TORONTO FC

Feb 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EST

Toronto FC logo

Each day from now until the beginning of Major League Soccer’s 18th season, we will preview one Eastern Conference team and one from the West. First kick is March 2.

No. 10 in the East is Toronto FC:

Significant additions and subtractions: Ryan Nelsen took over for Paul Mariner (who had taken over just a few months earlier from Aron Winter) in one of the truly bizarre coaching shifts yet seen in MLS. New club president Kevin Payne, the polarizing architect of so much that was good and so much that went wrong previously at D.C. United.

Canadian international Kyle Bekker was the third overall MLS draft pick.

Julio Cesar has moved north from Sporting Kansas City, and may play a significant role in the center of the park.

Strengths: Torsten Frings is a skillful, determined leader who adds valuable versatility – so long as he keeps himself healthy and motivated. The German veteran has only recently returned to Toronto, where he was either in rehabilitation, sorting out personal business or perhaps … well, who knows what? There seemed to be some whispers of discontent, and isn’t that just what this team in high transition needs?

TFC gets a huge boost if goalkeeper Stefan Frei is back to his 2011 form (after missing most of the 2012 season due to injury).

Pressure points: The roster isn’t where it needs to be, even Payne admits it. That’s why he’s been gathering up allocation money for the next move. Or moves. Let’s go with “moves.”

Reading too much into preseason results is always a dangerous thing. That said, it was not been a good preseason for TFC. And then some. Perhaps unfavorable results aren’t a surprise considering the teams’ top two players remain on the mend. And Justin Braun’s injury over the weekend is alarming, especially considering how much of the scoring burden he needed to tote pending Danny Koevermans’ healthy return (which isn’t happening anytime soon).

Cesar is a useful player, but he’s not anything close to Frings in terms of leadership and gumption.

None of these preseason woes would resonate as loudly if not for the club history, for the yawning gap that has always existed between TFC and the field. In a league where over half the teams make the playoffs each year (well over half in some of those seasons), TFC has failed to qualify for all six years of existence. The ongoing organizational flailing has been a huge beat-down for TFC supporters, who once showed up in waves. We see more and more empty seats around BMO Field, which is a doggone shame.

source: Getty Images

Jeremy Hall has a central midfielder? Hmmm. He’s been a right-sided guy through his entire career, and he’s been adequate at best there. It seems like a big stretch to play the man on the inside now – and it probably says something about TFC’s that flagging roster strength at the moment.

Difference maker: It’s Koevermans, but there is a huge asterisk here. The Dutch striker (pictured right), sizable and skillful, looks like a Golden Boot candidate when at his best. He has 17 goals in 26 appearances for the club, which is righteous production. But can he be at his best coming off major knee surgery? He’s not even expected to be on the field until June – and the Reds could be too far behind by then.

Potential breakout player: The club expects big things of Bekker, the third overall pick in January’s draft. He has played in the middle (as Bekker does for Canada) but also on the flanks for Ryan Nelsen’s team.

Bottom line: Given the injury concerns with Frings, Koevermans and Braun, it’s hard to be optimistic, especially over the season’s first 90 days.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Atlanta makes shrewd hire, bringing in Carlos Bocanegra as technical director

    Mar 2, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    bocanegra Getty Images

    Bocanegra will work with MLS Atlanta president Darren Eales, who has worked with Premier League clubs West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur.

  2. BBC report: Sunderland’s Adam Johnson arrested on suspicion of sex with a 15-year-old girl

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:36 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Daily Mail had reported that three cops cars stormed a Premier Leaguer’s apartment earlier Monday to make the arrest.

  3. Is Rafael van der Vaert closing in on a move to MLS with Sporting KC?

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    FBL-GER-BUNDESLIGA-BAYERN MUNICH-HAMBURG Getty Images

    KC only has two Designated Players — Matt Besler and Zusi — and RVDV would be a nice match provided the money works for both parties.

  4. 2015 MLS season preview: Orlando City SC

    Mar 2, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Orlando_City_2014.svg

    The Lions will roar into MLS after several successful seasons in the third-tier. How will Orlando fare in 2015?

  5. Premier League Playback: Why Manchester City are throwing away the title

    Mar 2, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    PST’s Editor and Lead Writer take a look back at Week 27 in the Premier League.

  6. Police investigating post-League Cup racist behavior claims against Chelsea fans

    Mar 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Chelsea v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    Chelsea fans on a train from London to Manchester have been accused of more racist behavior following the club’s 2-0 League Cup final win over Tottenham on Sunday.

  7. Mourinho: “Need to feed myself” with titles. Will Chelsea finish with one, two or three? (Vote now)

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:23 AM EST

    Britain Soccer League Cup Final AP

    Barring a catastrophic run of injuries, Chelsea looks set for a double, but the treble will take all of Mourinho’s managerial magic and likely some luck.

  8. 2015 MLS season preview: New York City FC

    Mar 2, 2015, 9:02 AM EST

    NYCFC_Badge

    Can NYCFC capture the hearts and minds of soccer fans in the Big Apple? Here’s a look at how things are shaping up for their inaugural season in MLS.

  9. WATCH: Lukas Podolski offers up one of the worst corner kicks in Inter Milan history

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:15 AM EST

    56e7def813d446eabef28b3cc190021d Getty Images

    It has not been a banner loan for the 6-foot Polish-German striker.

  10. Rumors know no window: Orlando using Kaka to lure Balotelli to MLS

    Mar 2, 2015, 7:48 AM EST

    Kaka Balotelli Getty Images

    The transfer gossip out of Spain is that Orlando City is trying to woo the agent for Mario Balotelli.

  11. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Stars of Matchweek 27

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Find out who made the cut as one of the top performers of Round 27 in the Premier League.

  12. Thierry Henry on Chelsea: “They live to defend”

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:20 PM EST

    Soccer - Capital One Cup - Final - Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Wembley Stadium AP

    One of the greatest strikers of all-time says it all starts on defense, something Chelsea proved today in their Capital One triumph.

  13. VIDEO: Premier League Goals of the Week — Round 27

    Mar 1, 2015, 9:09 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    It’s a battle between Liverpool super-strikes for best goal of the week in the Premier League.

  14. La Liga & Serie A roundup: Draws for Real, Atletico; Salah shines for Fiorentina

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Catch up on all of Sunday’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  15. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 27

    Mar 1, 2015, 7:17 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Two goals silenced the critics and got this Manchester man named Premier League Player of the Week.

  16. Sunderland to appeal Wes Brown red card as officiating blunders continue

    Mar 1, 2015, 6:33 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Wes Brown was sent off in the Black Cats’ loss to Manchester United, despite the fact that John O’Shea seemingly committed the foul.

  17. WATCH: Wenger hails Arsenal’s “mentally determined performance”

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:46 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Coming off of an ugly midweek loss to Monaco, Arsenal responded perfectly with a 2-0 win over Everton.

  18. Stephen Ireland sidelined after vicious challenge from Maynor Figueroa

    Mar 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    The Stoke City midfielder needed 12-15 stitches in his calf after taking a challenge that manager Mark Hughes said could have ended his career.

  19. Louis van Gaal says Angel di Maria is low on confidence

    Mar 1, 2015, 4:10 PM EST

    Soccer 2015: Manchester United vs. Burnley FEB 11 AP

    The Argentinian winger was subbed out at halftime of Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Sunderland.