One wonders how difficult it must have been to the loyal Toronto FC fans to watch the expansion Seattle Sounders make the playoffs in their inaugural season while Toronto, who entered the 2009 season with much promise, failed for the third straight time.
Missing the playoffs by a single point last season, Toronto’s first move was to hire Preki as their new head coach. Preki had previously been the head coach at CD Chivas USA, where in his first season as head coach he led the Goats to first place in the Western Conference and was named MLS Coach of the Year.
A talented player in his own right, Preki can still only do so much as coach though. It comes down to the players' performance on the pitch, and the team looks to be on the fringes.
Toronto will experience a drop-off in production without the services of playmaking midfielder Amado Guevara, a former league MVP, who left the team to return to his native Honduras.
Without Guevara, Toronto will put more weight on the shoulders of Dwayne De Rosario.
The two-time MLS MVP and native Canadian enjoyed a successful first season with his hometown team. In 28 league games De Rosario scored 11 goals, equaling a career high, and notched six assists, his third highest total and most since he recorded 13 in 2005.
Toronto will hope that designated player Julian de Guzman will be able to team up with De Rosario and the club will not miss a beat.
De Guzman signed with the team in mid-September and only appeared in five games. Now Toronto will get a full season out of him and will expect him to be worth the DP slot. De Guzman and De Rosario were teammates with the Canadian National Team, so the two do have a history of playing together.
The Reds will also need increased performance from Chad Barrett.
The forward is Toronto’s number one target up top, yet his goal scoring was sub-par, managing to only find the back of the net five times. In three seasons with Chicago before being traded he led the team in goals twice. He is well-known for his work ethic and is still a young 24-year-old, so it isn’t hard to imagine that last year was a small bump in the road.
What Toronto needs a lot of help on is defense.
They boast second-year phenom goalie Stefan Frei, speedy right fullback Marvell Wynne, and veteran center back Nick Garcia, yet managed to give up the third most goals in the entire league (46).
They didn’t do themselves any favors, either, when they traded defensive center midfielder Carl Robinson to the Red Bulls.
The hope is that Jacob Peterson, a midfielder that spent that past four seasons in Colorado amassing nearly 100 appearances, can fill in. The problem is that Peterson missed the end of last season because of a torn ACL in his right knee.
He is only 23-years-old still, so if he can recover he could be a valuable asset for years to come.
Still, without a strong attack force, the defense really needs to be shored up. Currently there are only two new faces to the defense and both are inexperienced.
They traded for Ty Harden, who after one season with the Galaxy retired only to return the following season with Colorado, where he appeared in only seven league games.
Toronto also drafted in the second round defender Zachary Herold from the U-17 residency program. The 17-year-old drew some attention from teams around the world, including the German Bundesliga, but settled on a six-year deal with MLS.
The squad had traded its first round pick for veteran defender Adrian Serioux, but they could not renew his contract and instead traded his rights to Houston (for a third round pick nonetheless, certainly a poor series of events from the Toronto front office).
It’s difficult to tell where Toronto currently stands.
They have some talented individual players, but collectively they struggle at both ends of the field. Expect the roster to continue to be influx as the season goes on as the team continues to push for its first ever trip to the playoffs.
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