Toronto had a lot of momentum going into he 2018 season. They broke the singe season points record, won all of the league and domestic trophies, and were one of the favorites for CCL success. And then they suffered a string of injuries that haunted them through all competitions and prevented them from returning to the MLS Cup playoffs.
It was a rough year to say the least.
2019 was supposed to be a rest year for Toronto. Keep the key players for one more year, attempt to win CCL again, and stay healthy for MLS. But again, things did not go according to plan.
Key playmaker Victor Vazquez left to join Al Arabi, top goal scorer Sebastian Giovonco failed to renegotiate a contract and left to join Al Hilal, versatile defender Gregory Van der Wiel was dismissed after an altercation with coach Greg Vanney, depth defender Nick Hagglund was traded to FC Cincinnati, and Jozy Altidore has made rumblings that he may be looking for new scenery.
This is a significant hit to the bite of Toronto’s offense and the addition of Terrence Boyd alone can’t fill that gap. Alejandro Pozuelo would be a big boost to midfield creativity, but negations are still ongoing. As for defense, Nick DeLeon and Laurent Ciman have been added to help sore things up.
Tactics & Key Players
Toronto had no preferred formation in 2018 as they had to keep adjusting for CCL and injuries. With the pieces they have right now, a 3-4-1-2 may be the default or desired formation, however they lined up in a 4-3-3 during their first CCL game.
Goalkeeper: Alex Bono continues to be the number one option for the Reds and is a bit cheaper this year at $5.5m.
Defenders: There could be rotations on defense, but this will be focused on the wings and Laurent Ciman and Chris Mavinga have the center position locked. On the right side, expect time to be split between Auro and Nick DeLeon. The deciding factor will be how offensive the team is playing that week. On the right, Justin Morrow will be the first choice, but it he’s called to a more advanced position, Ashtone Morgan has already filled in during CCL.
Keep an eye on Morrow as the season goes on. He started up top in Toront’s first CCL game and could be a great bargain at $6.0m if he lines up the same in the regular season.
Midfielders: The returning trio of Jonathan Osorio, Michael Bradley, and Marcy Delgado will once again anchor the midfield. Expect Bradley to return to his usual holding position and leave creativity mostly to the others. Be sure to keep an eye on Delgado. He had an amazing 2018 and could be a key creator especially early in the season.
Tsubasa Endoh is an interesting player that I want to mention. He’s listed as a midfielder but had success in USL with Toronto II playing a more advanced role. He could split time in the midfield and as a forward alternative and is pretty cheap at just $4.5m. However, Pozuelo is the easy insert when/if the deal works out.
Forwards: Jozy Altidore and Terrence Boyd. Neither of these players can replace Giovinco so they will have to rely on the chances that can be created by Altidore’s holdup play and runs from the wings.
Toronto will likely be a team that most manages will want to keep away from at the start of the year. CCL games, Altidore’s injury, and the lack of a true playmaker are hurdles that need to be overcome before we can be confident in fantasy point production. This could all change quickly if Pozuelo is signed and if Toronto crash out early from CCL.
Potential Starting XI
The front three really has me scratching my head. I think you need to have both Altidore and Boyd on the field, but both are usually a more central player. This could mean a 4-4-1-1 but I’m just not sure. If they do go with a top 3, I’m just not sure who’s going to earn that final spot and Pozuelo will change things up a lot!