- Regular Season: 50 points (13-10-11) 4th Place in the East
- Playoffs: Win 5-1 vs DCU, Win 2-1 @ NYC, Win 2-1 @ ATL,
- MLS Cup: Loss 1-3 @ SEA
2019 was one of the most tumultuous seasons in the past few years for TFC. The season began with losing Giovinco, the club’s driving attacking force, and playmaker Victor Vazquez. TFC stumbled out of the CCL in the first round, before making several big signings mid season including Alejandro Pozuelo, Omar Gonzalez, Nicolas Benezet and Erickson Gallardo. The team lost a large number of Canadian and American players for the Gold Cup mid-season. During this first half of the season TFC was more often than not on the outside looking in at the playoff spots. The new signings eventually helped stabilize the team, and TFC ended the regular season on a 10 game unbeaten streak. Altidore would go off injured on the last game of the regular season, and remain out for almost the entire playoff run. Despite Jozy’s absence, they knocked off DC United in the first round at home, before scraping out 2-1 wins away to NYCFC and Atlanta. In an MLS Cup rematch vs Seattle, TFC were unable to capitalize on their chances and gave up the first goal. As TFC pressed more into the attack, they gave up more goals, while Altidore hobbled on to score a late consolation goal.
Tactics & Key Players
- Pozuelo ($11m – MID) is the main play-maker for TFC, typically deployed as a central attacking midfielder. Expect a lot of assists and big chances created. He should be on penalty kicks and some set pieces, though keep an eye on Piatti in that regard.
- Altidore ($10.5m – MID) is TFC’s talisman, leading the front line. Jozy can be expected to score when he plays, but has a history of injuries. Most of his points will come from goals, but his unselfishness also creates opportunities for assists.
- Piatti ($9m – MID) is the newest Designated Player for TFC. He will likely be deployed as a winger, and expected to pose a not only a key threat, but free up Altidore and Pozuelo.
- Gonzalez ($6m – DEF) is the experienced centre back, leading the defence, while offering potential for headed goals.
- Gallardo ($6m – MID) will be battling for minutes on the wing with Endoh ($6.0m) and DeLeon ($5.5m). Whoever starts could be a good bench play.
- Fraser ($5.5m – MID) should fill in at defensive midfielder for Bradley, giving him similar potential for passing and other Bonus Points.
- Osorio ($7.5m – MID) could line up at a couple spots across the midfield, either centrally or on the left.
- Achara ($4m – MID) or Mullins ($5.5m – FWD) could get a few starts up top when Altidore is out.
- Auro ($4.5m – DEF), Laryea ($5.5m – DEF), and Morrow ($5.5m – DEF) are all attacking fullbacks offering potential for assists, crossing BPs, and the odd goal. Laryea ended the 2019 season to great effect as a super sub on the wing / full-back, and he may be promoted to the starting XI.
Key Players Out:
- Winger: Nicolas Benezet
- Midfielder: Jay Chapman
- Centre Back: Drew Moore
- Full Back: Ashtone Morgan
Key Players In:
- Winger: Pablo Piatti ($9m – MID) from La Liga’s RCD Espanyol Barcelona, however, he will miss at least the first game or two with a hamstring strain.
- Late Signings: Ifunanyachi Achara ($4m – MID) via the 25th overall selection in the Super Draft
- Homegrowns: Rocco Romeo ($4m – DEF), Nelson ($4m – MID) were all singed in January from TFC’s academy system
- Gallardo ($6m – MID) arrived in summer 2019, now has had a full off season to integrate.
- Bradley ($8m) – MID) re-signed as a TAM player, but had surgery in January, and is expected to be out until Early June
- Fraser ($5.5m – MID) should start in Bradley’s place for the first couple months
Expectation, or at least hope, is high among TFC fans. With Omar Gonzalez playing, TFC only lost one game to close out the 2019 regular season (27 points, 7-1-6 in 14 games). In 2020, the key will be how well Osorio, Delgado, and Fraser can cover for an injured Michael Bradley in front of the back line. Fraser has shown that on his day he can definitely fill those shoes, but now he will have to do it consistently.
The attack should have improved in the off-season with the addition of Pablo Piatti, along with a rested Pozuelo and Altidore. There is hope Gallardo will play a role with a full off-season under his belt. If Altidore misses any big stretch of games, it will be a test to see if the attack can function as well with Mullins and Achara filling in. If not, then TFC may return to the false-9 formation with Pozuelo playing “up top” which worked well enough last year, but fell short against the best defense.
Beyond Toronto’s marquee players, there may be value plays in Fraser, Gallardo, Osorio, and Auro who have potential to score well if they start games. Auro may, however, split minutes with Ritchie Laryea at right back.
Greg Vanney likes to rotate and switch formations depending on the opponent. The club has already hinted at “load management” for Piatti, so the new DP might only play 70% of the time. When Altidore is healthy, TFC typically plays a 4-2-3-1 formation, but over the years Vanney has moved to a 4-3-3.
Week 1 Expected Lineup (4-2-3-1)*
* Bradley & Piatti out injured, Gallardo recovering from a groin strain. In full training as of Wednesday but may not start. Altidore expected to start and be captain.
Full Strength 4-2-3-1 Depth Chart*
*Two of Delgado, Osorio, Gallardo, Fraser, or DeLeon will be left out if Piatti, Altidore and Pozuelo remain healthy. DeLeon has impressed enough to take minutes from these marquee players on occasion. When Bradley returns, the competition for minutes will be even more fierce.
Full Strength 4-3-3 Depth Chart
*If Pozuelo is not played centrally, he typically is used on one of the flanks, but will drift centrally as needed.