The MLS offseason has been quiet thus far, with both the expansion draft and re-entry draft having already taken place. Toronto FC has been especially quiet—only waiving a few roster players and adding one young prospect (Reggie Lambe).
This is just the calm before the storm. Moves must and will be made as Technical Director Aron Winter is looking to make changes during his first full offseason with the team.
TFC has solidified itself as one of the most popular clubs in the young league, but has yet to make an appearance in the playoffs. Last season could be split into two entirely different campaigns because basically the entire team was flipped midseason. The second half was a success and the team will look to build on this.
Looking forward to next season we have a birth in the knockout stages of the CONCACAF Champions League, and of course the introduction of the newest Canadian MLS Franchise, Montreal Impact.
The next step in the offseason will be the 2012 MLS Superdraft, where Toronto holds picks four and 12 in the first round.
Playmaking, Central Defenders
Goalkeepers, Defensive Midfielders.
The team is solid upfront with Danny Koevermans in the middle and a plethora of options on the wings.
Holding down the midfield is captain Torsten Frings, who is joined along with experienced players like Julian De Guzman and youth like Eric Avila. JDG might be expendable as he has a large contract and little place on the team now that Frings is around—but there aren't many teams willing to take on his contract.
The team needs more flair and playmaking from the midfield, as the only current #10 on their team is Avila. Look for the team to explore another option to bring in a proven provider.
The defense is in shambles, as the injury bug plagued the back line this past season. Realistically, the team is thin through the center of defense and are in need of a strong leader to shore up the line. Look for the team to bring in a player with some pedigree as a CB.
Toronto FC has the best goalkeeping duo in the league, hands down. This might be an area where you trade an asset for a team need.
Some question marks regarding a few of the players on loan to the club:
Will TFC make the playoffs this year?
Richard Eckersley and Joao Plata, both fan favorites, are not owned by the club. TFC has been very vocal about their desires to keep both players. Joao Plata has a deal in place that is just being finalized, potentially as a 50 percent ownership deal. This means that TFC will own half of his rights, enough to keep him around for many seasons to come. Eckersley could very well be with the club next season, just no information is available as of yet.
With Toronto holding picks four and 12 in the first round, the draft is suddenly a big deal to management. Toronto FC could look to just trade them away, or potentially grab up some diamonds in the rough that regularly come from the NCAA.
With the fourth overall pick, my guess will be that TFC will select Andrew Wenger if he is still on the board. This is extremely unlikely. Realistically, the team selects Matt Hedges with the pick. He is a big boy who can defend. The draft opens up by Toronto's second pick, with many potential options. It is always best to stick with defenders and keepers in the draft, as their raw talent is a greater guarantee to transfer over into success in the MLS than offensive weapons.
Look for Toronto to get rid of a few additional players this offseason.
Nathan Sturgis did not have a place on this team, so he was traded. Mikael Yourasowsky is a loose cannon and should not be invited back next season. Both could easily be replaced with younger and more talented options. Adrian Cann has actually been a pretty good player for the club during his career, but the chances of him back with the team next year are slim. Contract issues arose at the beginning of last season and I do not see him being signed to play for the team for seasons to come.
The team is looking to add depth to the squad with Winter pointing out that he wants at least two quality players per position. Here is a breakdown of my Toronto FC depth chart as it stands in the classic Winter 4-3-3 system (Note: One of the midfield positions is left as 'M', so its open to play the point forward or point backward midfield.)
As it roughly stands right now:
#11 LW: Joao Plata, Peri Marosevic
#9 ST: Danny Koevermans
#7 RW: Ryan Johnson, Nick Soolsma, Reggie Lambe
#10 AM: ______, Eric Avila
#8 M: Julian De Guzman, Terry Dunfield
#6 DM: Torsten Frings, Matt Stinson,
#5 LB: Ashton Morgan, ______
#4 LCB: Andy Iro, Dicoy Williams
#3 RCB: ______, Ty Harden, Doneil Henry
#2 RB: Richard Eckersley, Jeremy Hall
#1 GK: Stefan Frei, Milos Kocic
Cordon, Bouchiba, Makubuya and Lindsay all are non-factors right now. They are reserve only players.
And yes, I do associate positions with certain numbers. I also think they should be enforced...loosely. Look at Rugby Union and how brilliant it is with assigned positional numbers.
That's how my chart looks. Any thoughts? What does yours look like?