Toronto FC Still Have Major Holes Despite Big Offseason

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 11: Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen talks to reporters during media day at the Kia training grounds on February 11, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

In case you've been stuck under a rock all offseason, Toronto FC made splash after splash to help bolster their squad that had an absolutely terrible 2013 campaign. 

Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe, Dwayne De Rosario and Julio Cesar are among the big names that have been brought in by the club's ownership to resurrect a franchise that clearly needed a facelift. 

Despite bringing in two midfield playmakers in Bradley and De Rosario, as well as a proven goalscorer in Defoe and an experienced keeper in Cesar, the Reds still have a few major holes that will prevent them from being a major player in the race for the MLS Cup in 2014. 

Whenever a club brings in a ton of talent all at once, one has to worry about the team jelling as one cohesive unit. This is something that should not be expected in the first game of the season, but it is something to be worried about if a team does not begin the campaign well. 

Bradley will not have a problem getting used to his teammates, but players like De Rosario and Defoe are older and have not seen as much consistency in their respective games of late. This is something that could strike a bit of fear into the minds of Toronto fans, who expect a winning product on the pitch. 

Jan 13, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto FC new players Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley are introduced as they pose along with president and CEO of MLSE Tim Leiweke and head coach Ryan Nelsen during a press conference at Real Sports Bar and Grill
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

While the midfield does not have a problem with depth anymore, the group of forwards on the Toronto roster bring up yet another concern about the club.

Behind Defoe, who is competing for a potential spot on the England World Cup roster, sits only one proven goalscorer in fellow designated player Gilberto. 

Not much is known about the 24-year-old forward, but he did score 14 goals in 2013 for Portuguesa in the Brazilian top flight. 

After the two big-name forwards there is basically nothing—Bright Dike went down with an Achilles injury earlier this week. Dike could have been a solid third option up front in attack, but now that plan has been thrown out the window. 

Another concern about the new-look TFC squad is the man who will mind the net in 2014—Cesar. The 34-year-old Brazilian international played second fiddle at Queens Park Rangers to Robert Green and has not played a competitive game in quite some time. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 21:  Julio Cesar of Queens Park Rangers organises his defence during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Everton at Loftus Road on October 21, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty I
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Cesar moved to Toronto partly because of his connection to Reds manager Ryan Nelsen, who retired from QPR last season to become the man in charge in Ontario. 

Nelsen used his old QPR connections to bring in Bradley Orr on loan from Blackburn Rovers as well. Cesar and Orr have played in the Championship of late and there could be some concern that they will be not be up to the competitive level that MLS brings to the table.  

Then, there is Nelsen himself, who before last season did not have a managerial job anywhere in the world. The former New Zealand international received a mulligan of sorts for his massively disappointing 2013 because of the lack of the talent on the pitch. 

This season, the manager will not be allowed to make any excuses in regards to the team's talent as the club's ownership have given him plenty of expensive toys to play with.

If Nelsen fails to deliver results early on in a season that will carry high expectations, he could easily become the first manager to be sacked in 2014. 

The pressure is certainly on Nelsen. Whether or not he responds in a positive manner remains to be seen. If he can deal with the lofty expectations that the club and their fans have, he could end up being one of the favorites to win the Manager of the Year Award. 

Toronto definitely have a few holes in their squad, but if they can overcome those flaws, they will become one of the best stories of the 2014 MLS season. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.