Yes, it’s the hapless Toronto FC, with their unpredictable form, revolving roster and… AMAZING! It was NOT a dream! In 2016, TFC finally put their past behind them, coming moments from an MLS Cup win on home soil. This was the year they learned how to win, how to come back, and how to forge an identity on the field. The team got stronger throughout the year, hit their stride at playoff time and never looked back.
The turnover has been so low that only Will Johnson, Mark Bloom and Josh Williams have left the club. Johnson will be just as reliable in Orlando. In Toronto he lacked significant time on the pitch, but was exceptional in terms of heart. Fellow Canadian Jonathan Osorio will most likely take up that mantle. Incoming is Armando Cooper, a well-rounded midfielder who joined the squad in time for their 2016 playoff push. 2017 will see him put to regular use, but TFC are on the hunt for a more dynamic attacking midfielder to unlock the full potential of their two very different strikers, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore. One defensive addition from Ligue 1 is former Liverpool prospect Chris Mavinga. Signed by the club for depth, Mavinga could compete with Nick Hagglund or Eriq Zavaleta for minutes.
Looking down the bench, TFC are embracing their existing young talent and Academy prospects. Last year’s young standouts Jordan Hamilton, Tsubasa Endoh and Marky Delgado established themselves well. A more experienced Tosaint Ricketts looked a welcome part of the squad in just a few appearances. Initial doubts over Michael Bradley‘s place at the club were quelled, and the Captain will anchor the midfield once more.
With a similar roster, Toronto FC’s successful 3-5-2 formation should continue in 2017 – although coach Greg Vanney has proven the team can be flexible when necessary. This offers opportunities for depth and otherwise fringe players to get minutes. The play of defensive starters Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour was crucial last season. They will be expected to log many miles as two-way warriors on the flanks. Morrow in particular had an excellent 2016 at the attacking end of the pitch. Strikers Giovinco and Altidore played both together and apart for stretches of last season, so all eyes will be on how they are deployed and who they gel with in the final third.
Expected Toronto Starting Lineup
This off-season has seen Toronto FC make the fewest roster and leadership changes in their history. Will that reward them as they look to resume their great form? Might it fail as other teams makes changes? TFC’s MLS Cup penalty shoot-out loss will surely motivate them to earn another shot at glory. They will enter the season confident and eager to prove they are in the title hunt from week one. The character they show in the face of any adversity should be an indicator of what 2017 has in store for them. This year should be another big one.
There should be more than one Toronto FC player on your MLS Fantasy squad on opening day. If you want an expensive but steady defender, pick Drew Moor. If you’re after additional attacking returns, pick Justin Morrow. If you want steady midfield points and at times a differential (meaning not everyone will have him on their team), pick Michael Bradley. For cheaper midfielders that provide decent returns and even more differential, pick Johnathan Osorio or Armando Cooper. If you think he can stay healthy and build on his 2016 return to form, pick forward Jozy Altidore.
If you are absolutely crazy, DON’T pick forward Sebastian Giovinco. Does his high price tag bother you? Do you really think you can do better than picking the best player in MLS, who came THIS CLOSE to an MLS Cup? Giovinco was the MLS Fantasy top scorer last year… and he will be the top scorer again this year.