Toronto FC kicks off its third season tomorrow at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City with high hopes. Many feel that this could be the year that "The Reds" finally make the playoffs and compete amongst MLS's elite.
These optimists went into last season with the same mentality. But after an impressive start, fans soon realized, as the season progressed and points were forfeited time and time again, that improvements still needed to be made.
Up front, their reliance on veteran firepower proved foolhardy, as the combination of Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham failed to impress. The acquisition of Chad Barrett in the latter part of the season was a dramatic improvement, but the damage had already been done.
In the middle of the pitch, the loss of Maurice Edu, perhaps their most creative and talented player, proved to be too costly. Having continuously lost players throughout the year to international duty, Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson especially, TFC lacked the depth to compete.
Their defence lacked consistency as well but it should not shoulder all the blame. It had no support up front during Toronto's multiple goalless droughts.
Marvell Wynne and Marco Velez were definitely the most reliable of the back four. Greg Sutton was his usual dependable self, but the squad seriously needed a more reliable backup to help shoulder some of the workload.
This is where Mo Johnston, perhaps TFC's most valuable player, comes into play.
Up front, the additions of rookie O'Brian White and Argentine Pablo Vitti should definitely add much-needed firepower.
On defence, Tyrone Marshall was given his walking papers to make space for veteran Adrian Serioux, a natural holding midfielder who has become more accustomed to playing centre back with team Canada and will most likely assume that position in John Carver's starting eleven. Gambian's Emmanuel Gomez and Amadou Sanyang will also add depth to the squad defensively.
All of a sudden, Greg Sutton will have some pressure on his back to perform, as Stefan Frei and Brian Edwards look poised for minutes. The offseason pickups have been deemed ready by many critics and should solidify any issues the team previously had in net.
And the most anticipated and celebrated acquisition in the history of Toronto FC, Dwayne DeRosario is finally coming home. Mo Johnston finally got his man. It should be exciting to see what he and Guevara can stir up in the middle of the pitch.
Once again, the buzz around the BMO field compound is evident and those seats will be full. You can guarantee that. Toronto FC you have the best fans in the league, now it's your turn.
Make us proud.