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Previewing Toronto FC

  2008 026

For those of you who missed it over the weekend, here is my preview of Toronto FC.

No team in MLS has done more to revamp their squad than TFC, which has added all-star midfielder Dwayne DeRosario, Argentine striker Pablo Vitti, top rookie midfielder Sam Cronin and defender Adrian Serioux. With a few more signings expected soon, including a central defender projected to step in and start, Toronto FC is the leader in the "MLS team most likely to make the playoffs after missing them in 2008" race.

Where do I see Toronto finishing? A battle with Kansas City for third place in the Eastern Conference sounds about right, while a Columbus Crew-like surge from worst in the East to best in MLS shouldn't be completely ruled out.

It should be noted that 2008 Toronto FC and the 2007 Columbus Crew share one big thing in common, a rash of last-minute losses and ties. Columbus matured after 2007, learning from those disappointing experiences to put together a dream season. Toronto, with hometown hero DeRosario now in the fold, could very well do the same thing.

What do you think of Toronto FC's prospects in 2009? Think John Carver can steer this revamped squad to an MLS Cup title? Do you see the team struggling to integrate all the new faces? Could the MLS Cup trophy really be headed north this year?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Oddly enough, this season isn’t so cut and dry as last season (and yes, it was–for me, as RSL was my darkhorse prediction).

    Anyhow, more to the point, TFC will make the playoffs in 2009. I said it shortly after the 2008 season–and as a Fire supporter, that’s no easy thing to say, given how stacked the East is.

    Dc will re-appear; one reason-Gomez.

    NE won’t be as bad as they were last season.

    NY/NJ may put in a better showing but will finish 4th (maybe even 5th) again.

    As odd as it is to say, KC is going to make the 4th spot ahead of the MetroBulls.

    Chicago will put in another strong showing, but I can’t yet see how they will flesh out against what will be the strongest Eastern conference season EVER.

    Perhaps for my sanity it’s better that way. But yeah, all group to group ribing aside, I am more excited about this season than I have been before, and I can’t wait to get to some away games! Most host cities have been great to visit, and I hope I get to see more of them.

  2. MJ-

    To be fair i dont think Vitti has had the chance, hes rarely started with his last 2-3 teams let alone been a bench player, i think given the chance he will prove himself, even then i cant say how much he will score. There have been rave reviews from players and coaches in camp about hsi work ethic and his positioning. We had plenty of chances last year and noone to finish them, he should do the trick. That being said i do think he will be one of our starting strikers (along with Barrett and Dichio challenging for a starters position/working as a supersub).

  3. If they can add another starting central defender and get strong target man up front, TFC could surprise a lot of people and challenge for second in the division. You have to assume another decent defender is coming in, so the question is what’s going to happen up front. If they can get a target man (Vitti’s not exactly a goal-scoring machine is he) that can last 90 minutes and the season, 2nd is within their reach. If not, they’re still good to make the playoffs. We, the 12th man will certainly do our part to get them there!

  4. JoeW-
    Dont think Mo will be shuffling the deck that much (if at all) after these major signings. Its his last year and NEEDS to see progression and he is well knowledgeable that ridding of some players and bringing some in wont help that. I dont think we are going to take the league but i do think that making the playoffs, beating Columbus once or twice, as well as CCL qualification (ie beating Montreal and Vancouver for the Canadian Cup)are pretty reasonable goals.

  5. JoeTimber-
    Not that confusing how they will fit Guevara and DeRo in the mid, so far whats been reported (and what ive suspected for a while) is a variation on 4-4-2

    4-1-3-2 with Ricketts playing as the only outright winger and DeRo playing his usual position.

  6. New players are one thing. But, the most importants items that will help TFC improve this year is;

    1) John Carver has one year under his belt and controls training camp. He came in late and didn’t understand the league last year, how compitition improves after the Euro transfer windows or the impact of international commitments.

    2) It’s also the second year for the TFC Academy. This should allow players to more successfully fill in during injuries. While these players don’t have the talent to make the first team, they don’t have to learn the system and thus, can contribute.

    Improved – Yes. But, the weak backline will not solve late game looses/ties. TFC will make the playoffs, barely.

  7. I’d say somewhere around 3-5 in the east sounds about right. I still have questions about:

    1. Defense

    2. How good Vitti will turn out

    3. How another year of age will affect some of the older players on the roster.

  8. DC Josh,

    The reputation of DC fans being the biggest tools in MLS is secure agin with your assinine prediction. DC 2nd? What a homer toolbox.

  9. I wouldn’t say the acquisitions will singlehandedly improve Toronto all that much.

    keeping their current players healthy might benifit more.

    I’ve always liked Serioux and DeRo. DeRo has had a couple of mediocre seasons but still has his speed. Maybe a hometown crowd is all he needs.

    Serious needs to stay healthy as do their forwards.

    Add in another decent defender and this could be a contender.

    Toronto has been snakebitten the last couple of years.

  10. TFC will make it into the playoffs. But they have a completely new team, so it all comes down to their chemistry (see DC United 2008).

    My prediction:

    1. Crew
    2. United
    3. Revs
    4. TFC

  11. Oh you guys just wait and see, TFC will OWN the Eastern Conference!

    MLS Supporters Sheild and MLS Cup are going to head north of the border this year!

    Another prediction i’m going to make,

    This year will mark RECORDS BROKEN in post season play by travelling TFC supporters, I predict 10,000 travelling to the MLS CUP Final this year, to watch our Red’s HOIST the trophy. Thats right i said it 10,000 EASY!!

  12. As soon as they picked up DeRo that was enough for me to get excited about the coming season. They’ve addressed the team’s needs and should easily make the playoffs. Everything after that is icing.

  13. i’m not sure I understand the comments in this thread about massive changes TFC has made. The core starting 7 of the starting 11 of Sutton, Wynne, Brennan, Robinson, Ricketts, Guevara, Barrett is back this year.
    Columbus was very similar between 2007 and 2008. They took the 2007 core of about 7 guys and added about 4 guys to the starting lineup and went on to win the MLS Cup.
    Ives comparison is bang on.

  14. One of the beauty’s of MLS…everyone can be optimistic about their team possibly winning a title at the start of every season.

    However, TFC will be lucky to finish 4th in a tough division. Chicago, Columbus, NE and NY. Will they better? Probably…but i think 7 or 8 seed in the playoffs is realistic..anything more than that would require help.

  15. I just don’t see it.

    1. Vitti needs to be outstanding. Otherwise their forward corps will still be so-so.

    2. MoJo won’t leave well enough alone. Expect at least 3 major trades in mid-season as he just loves to shuffle the deck. As a result, expect a team with no cohesion and little chemistry.

    3. I still think they’re weak defensively. Maybe they’ll add a great central defender and everything will come together. But Frei may eventually be great but I don’t see him starting and TFC winning the East or making MLS cup. So that means we’re looking at Sutton. Who has a concussion problem and to my mind, has never been in the upper half of MLS GKs. For instance, I’d take Rimando over him. Their central defenders are…meh. Serioux is a guy who can’t stay healthy with any team. And for 2 years now, DeRo really hasn’t been a consistent force on the field. He’s been a guy who can pull out a big play at the right moment but not a guy to carry the team. I think it’s telling how few tears have been shed by people in Houston who had a chance to see him play regularly the last two years.

    I don’t see the comparison to Columbus as being accurate. Columbus had a good core of young players and just kept shuffling foreign acquisitions. Then they added a guy who was, game in and game out, probably the best and most consistent player in MLS (Schelotto) over the past 2 years. All they needed was a little more talent (which they added) and a goal scorer (which they acquired). Even then, I’m expecting a good initial start by Columbus this year but a big drop-off by year’s end. TFC doesn’t have the same core of young talent, they don’t have a Schelotto (unless you’re going to argue that DeRo will turn around his play or Guevara) and while they could potentially have a goal scorer emerge, right now they don’t have that player.

  16. 2 concerns:

    1) Lots of roster overhaul (unlike the Crew last year)

    2) How do you fit Guevara, Robinson, and DeRo into the midfield? Use DeRo as a second striker? 4-5-1? Keeping Guevara happy and playing well is easier said than done.

  17. That team won’t win anything. Great ownership group, and of course great fans. But horrible management in Mo Johnston and Whinin’ John Carver.

  18. I think they will be very strong, and with their 12th man in the stands, they could be a strong contender for MLS Cup if all the pieces work well together. They’re clearly excited about the upcoming season.

    If they get a strong centerback to start and partner with Serioux, they will be very tough.

  19. I thought they’d be playoff bound last season, but we know how that turned out. This year they’ve added more talent, though.

  20. I see them as a top three team in the east and making the playoffs. As the RedBulls showed, anything can happen after that.

  21. Key additions: M Dwayne De Rosario, F Pablo Vitti, M Sam Cronin, GK Stephan Frei, F O’Brian White, D Adrian Serioux, GK Stefan Frei

    Wow, they added Stephan and Stefan Frei! That’s going to be really confusing.

  22. I think the crazy TFC fans will actually have something to cheer about in 2009. However, I sense a possibility of TFC struggling early with all the new faces and a struggle to blend together.


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