Skip to content

Major League Soccer team previews: TORONTO FC

Feb 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

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. ICYMI: Insane 90-yard volley sets Bundesliga record for longest goal

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT

    Stoppelkamp AP

    Newly-promoted Paderborn is shocking the Bundesliga and providing quite the show in the process.

  2. Americans Abroad Review: English-based Americans struggle, Green shocks parents Bayern

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    It was a rough weekend for Americans in England, but outside the country things a little more enjoyable.

  3. WATCH: Men in Blazers show debuts on NBCSN

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.50.08 PM

    The full debut of Men In Blazers graced NBC Sports Network tonight with an assist from Adam Richman.

  4. Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Diaby Getty Images

    Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.

  5. Report: Obafemi Martins close to Seattle extension and raise

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    Martins AP

    Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.

  6. Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Tevez AP

    The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the Argentinian side since 2011 when he missed a crucial penalty in a shootout with Uruguay.

  7. Great flop or greatest flop? German player executes ridiculous dive

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Siegert Getty Images

    A dive to end all dives gave the German third division some notoriety.

  8. Fans of Brazilian club throw rocks at team bus after huge loss

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    Palmeiras Getty Images

    Things have gone horribly wrong for storied Brazilian club Palmeiras this year, and fans are making their feelings known.

  9. DC United extends Ben Olsen’s contract after bounceback season

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Olsen Getty Images

    The two sides agreed on a multi-year deal as Olsen calls DC United “my family and identity.”

  10. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Which 11 players stood out above the rest in Week 5? Find out, here.

  11. Former player accuses ousted Fulham manager Magath of insane cheese story

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Magath Getty Images

    According to a pair of former players, the old Fulham manager told Brede Hangeland to rub his knee with cheese to reduce inflammation.

  12. Premier League Download: Tale of the newly-promoted teams

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Leonardo Ulloa AP

    What are Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers all about? Our analysts break it down.

  13. Premier League player of the week – Round 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    Lampard AP

    Who was crowned the best player of the week in the PL?

  14. VIDEO: Watch the top five Premier League goals – Week 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited AP

    Which five goals were the best? Pick your best from two chips, a scissor kick, a belter and a curler.

  15. League Cup preview: Five all-Premier League ties await in third round

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners and Saints clash, as the third round of the League Cup takes place this week.

  16. FIFA Executive: “The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not happen”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

    Theo Zwanziger AP

    Zwanziger: “Medics say they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”

  17. VIDEO: Men In Blazers analyze the many faces of Louis van Gaal

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Men In Blazers - Sept. 22

    Joining the NBC Sports crew from the crap part of SoHo, the MiB break down van Gaal’s topsy-turvy day.

  18. Criminal? FIFA’s report into alleged 2018, 2022 World Cup corruption not public

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter AP

    A report documenting FIFA’s internal investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption will not be published.

  19. Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy out for three months

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Gunners defensive woes compounded as Debuchy will be out for over three months.

  20. Premier League Playback: Legendary Lampard strikes, United’s shambolic implosion

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the incredible storylines from the PL during Week 5.

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals