A sixth placed finish in 2015 would’ve been a slight disappointment for Toronto, given how good they were at times. But there were mitigating circumstances, as eight of their first nine games were away from home due to expansions and upgrades to their BMO Field stadium. Five defeats, a draw and just three wins from those nine fixtures immediately put them behind schedule, so they did well to recover. Had they not lost their final two games of the regular season though, they could’ve finished second and avoided the conference knockout round, showing how little there was between the Eastern Conference sides. It meant they faced Canadian rivals Montreal Impact in the MLS Cup knockout round and suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat. The margins between success and failure were paper thin in 2015, and the 2016 campaign is likely to be a similar story – fine tuning the minor details will be key.
Last season’s finish:
Eastern Conference – Position: 6th – P34 – W15 – D4 – L15Embed from Getty Images
What needs to change this year?
The Reds were exhilarating going forward in 2015, thanks in most part to Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore who bagged 35 of Toronto’s 58 goals between them. As a result, Greg Vanney’s side had the second most lethal attack in MLS – only New York Red Bulls managed to score more (62). As good as they were offensively, they were equally as bad at the other end of the pitch. They leaked far too many goals (58) meaning they had the worst defensive record in the league alongside Chicago Fire and New York City. If they have aspirations of finishing higher up the conference and thus having a better seeding come the postseason, they must tighten things up.
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Clint Irwin – Goalkeeper, Drew Moor – Defender, Steven Beitashour – Defender, Will Johnson – Midfielder
Outs: Joe Bendik – Goalkeeper, Chris Konopka – Goalkeeper, Ahmed Kantari – Defender, Jackson – Midfielder, Robbie Findley – Forward, Luke Moore – Forward
Key Player:Embed from Getty Images
Sebastian Giovinco – Forward – The Italian was quite simply sublime in 2015. He became the first player in MLS history to top both the goalscoring and assists charts. He scored 22 and set-up 16 goals in 33 appearances and quite rightly scooped the 2015 MLS Landon Donovan MVP Award. Everyone will be eagerly anticipating the start of the 2016 season and hoping that Giovinco can replicate last year’s performances.
One to Watch:
Marco “Marky” Delgado – Midfielder – The youngster was a regular feature in the Toronto side last season, making 20 appearances and contributing three goals and three assists. At just 20 years of age, he’s an extremely exciting prospect and playing in a team with the likes of Giovinco, Altidore, Michael Bradley and Benoit Cheyrou will only help both his experience and quality grow. 2016 will be another big year in his development.Embed from Getty Images
Eastern Conference – 3rd – Unlike many of the teams in MLS, Toronto have done well to limit the amount of offseason activity in terms of players coming in and out of the squad – the main acquisition being Will Johnson from the Portland Timbers. It means they’ve kept things fairly stable and for that reason, they should be raring to go in 2016. These players have spent a significant amount of time together now and should have really developed a strong understanding between one another. It leaves them in a great position to push on to bigger and better things this season, so don’t be surprised to see them climbing the Eastern Conference. There’s no reason that Toronto shouldn’t be aiming for an MLS Cup win this year.
What are you expecting from Toronto in 2016?