Toronto made the playoffs last season and promptly fell flat on their faces -- but instead of blowing up the team and starting from scratch like we've seen them and other MLS teams do in the past, they did something different. They got rid of some players who weren't working out, and they got better.
That's not to say that we should be getting ready to crown Toronto as the first Canadian champions of MLS, but just based off comparing their team to others around the league, there's every reason to think that they'll be even more competitive and even more of a factor than they were last season. With Sebastian Giovinco wreaking havoc on the front line and Michael Bradley marshaling a solid side behind him, Toronto did very well -- now they're better, deeper, faster, and smarter at almost every position group. With Jozy Altidore possibly missing the first month of the season, their forward group looks a little thin, but once the group is together they're going to make teams around MLS take notice of what's going on north of the border.
2015 Record 6th Place in the Eastern Conference 15-4-15 (49 points)
2015 Playoff Progress Knockout Round
Key additions Will Johnson, Steven Beitashour, Drew Moor, Clint Irwin
Key losses Luke Moore, Joe Bendik, Ahmed Kantari, Jackson, Robbie Findley, Chris Konopka
Projected starting XI (4-3-3) Clint Irwin; Justin Morrow, Drew Moor, Damien Perquis, Steven Beitashour; Benoit Cheyrou, Michael Bradley, Will Johnson; Jonathan Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco, Tsubasah Endoh
Yes, Toronto FC have some of the flashiest toys in Major League Soccer, but nobody can call their fans glory hunters. With only one playoff appearance in nine seasons, it is impressive that this many fans are still here. Now with better players and a newly renovated stadium this year it seems like there could finally be some light at the end of what has been a horrible tunnel for TFC fans.
For once, Toronto FC made a lot of offseason moves that made sense, and filled the majority of the team's holes, most of which were on the defensive side of the ball, with goalkeeping and defensive breakdowns canceling out Sebastian Giovinco's season for the ages too many times in 2015. The addition of former Colorado Rapids duo Clint Irwin (GK) and Drew Moor (CB) are particularly important, especially Moor as he will lead a backline that will hopefully be up to snuff this season.
Jonathan Osorio, hopefully. The young Canadian has been on the outside of the national team since the Gold Cup, but a good season could make him impossible not to call up. Comfortable both playing out wide and in the center of midfield, Osorio's creativity and workrate make him an intriguing prospect, and if he can fully break through in a crowded TFC midfield this year, he should have little issue getting back into CanMNT head coach Benito Floro's squad.
Toronto are very close to the salary cap ceiling as the season opens even after a slew of offseason moves. They may have to make moves now or down the road to become compliant. It will also be difficult to bring in summer reinforcements, which could hurt the team if they need a boost midseason.