I wrote this on March 5th of this year ahead of Aron Winter’s first season at the helm of Toronto FC. At the halfway point in this MLS campaign I think it is worth revisiting those words for a moment:

As it stands today I think it is fair to say that TFC, even with two additional playoff berths available in the revamped MLS 2011 playoff format, is going to find things very tough  to get into the post season. If there were ten slots available last year instead of the eight there actually were the Reds would not have made into the post season then either. Even holding onto the Voyageurs Cup and perhaps qualifying for Champions League play is going to be tougher this season with Canadian counterparts Vancouver Whitecaps now in MLS and playing at a higher competitive level

Unfortunately nothing I have seen in the twenty odd competitive matches this club has played since March has changed my mind very much in the last three months. What I did perhaps not bargain for is the level of the depths that TFC would be subjecting its fans to as Aron Winter and the new management team attempt to put a new foundation into place for the future.

At the halfway point this season things are much worse then they were a year ago when you look at the results and only the results. the 2010 MLS season was thirty games and this season is thirty four so I will compare this years first seventeen to last seasons first fifteen. Even with two additional games to try and get results the numbers are sobering on their face. In the first fifteen games last season Toronto FC had already won six times, had secured four draws and had lost five times. They had managed to secure 22 out of a total of 45 points on offer. The Reds had scored fifteen times and had conceded eighteen, which though troubling, was an improvement on the year before. As we all know the Reds have only won twice in MLS this season and have drawn an unprecedented nine times. TFC has already lost six games out of those first seventeen. Goals for at the halfway point this season match last season at fifteen, but goals against have ballooned to twenty five. TFC has to date this year secured only 15 out of a possible 51 points.

All is not as poor as it was last season though.

  • Some more young players from the Academy have graduated into the first team.
  • The club will be breaking ground any day on a massive permanent training facility costing upwards of $20 million which will be in the years ahead a huge factor in the future success TFC is able to achieve.
  • Toronto FC is still in with a good chance to secure the Voyageurs Cup and rain out aside are still up a goal with a home match to come.
  • The draw in CONCACAF qualification this year with a Nicaraguan side to overcome to get into the group stages of the Champions League is a bit easier than CD Motagua of Honduras were last season.
  • The transfer window is soon upon us and for the first time in a while the club has the cap room and likely allocation space available to significantly upgrade the squad.

I hate losing. And I am getting pretty sick of what looks likely to be five years with no playoff soccer involving our club. But I have to ask you all what realistically did you expect going into this season?

BMO FieldYou might have expected a few more home wins versus the ton of draws we have had to see. You might have expected some of the new signings, particularly the “Dutch Brigade” to have had more of an impact on the club then they have had. Perhaps you might have even expected truly a more “attractive” style of soccer on display then some of the tepid displays we have seen considering the way the club tries to sell this new approach to us. And again you probably would be absolutely right in expecting any of these.

The Voyageurs Cup Final next weekend is realistically likely TFC’s only chance at honours this season. If they win and hold onto the Voyageurs Cup then both the club and the fans have something that they can build upon. Playing more meaningful games in the summer and fall can be nothing but a good thing. If they lose the trophy to Vancouver next week they will be forced to play out a string of MLS games that will probably become less and less relevant as the playoff race leaves TFC on the outside looking in. And Toronto FC will become less and less relevant to both the hardcore and casual TFC fan, let alone the average Toronto sports fan.

ll I for one did not expect much more than this (a few details aside) than I did when I wrote my outlook in this space three scant months ago. Did you?

3 comments

  1. i didn’t expect much either. what i expected was that it would take a long time to turn a team that didn’t know how to do anything other than punt the ball up the field and hope for the best, into a team that can play soccer. I don’t see how the “Dutch brigade” as you called them, could have much more of an impact than they have. Soolsma is one of the smartest footballers out there week in and week out, Martina’s good, but has had minimal action due to Plata and Soolsma being the first choice wingers, and Bouchiba’s been injured ever since he got here.
    the positives:
    -our wings are secure with Soolsma, Plata, and Martina
    -Winter managed to get a strong talented 22 year old midfielder, a left back, and a 2012 first round pick, for a 33 year old who cared more about himself than he did about the team (who wouldn’t be here in a couple years anyways)
    -we’ve got one of the best RBs in the league in Richard Eckersley, and we have a talented backup for when he leaves in Omphroy
    -We got Alan Gordon (self explanatory)
    -the academy products are stepping up when they’re needed
    -we have some solid CBs in Henry, Attakora, Cann, and Williams
    -Sturgis looks highly capable in the holding midfield role

    this means that the attacking midfield is the only area that actually needs more talented players before we can play like a proper team

  2. We may have cap space, but we dont have discovery openings. It will be interesting to see how we work around this.

    Having academy players in the first team is only a benefit if they’re good enough. I don’t think many would (or certainly shouldnt) think that any of the academy players signed this year (so I exclude Henry who has been serviceable if error prone) are ready to start, even spot start.

    TFC_AJAX – wing in likely our weakest spot. Soolsma and Plata (nor Martina) have done nothing worthwhile all season.

  3. i don’t know how you can say that the Wing is weak b/c Soolsma and Plata haven’t done anything. What are wingers suppose to do when there’s a short CF and no attacking midfielders making themselves open. unless there’s players for the wingers to pass to, they will appear to be doing nothing. despite this, some of our best scoring chances have come from our wingers when they cut inside because there’s no other options. Plata and Soolsma are probably the two smartest footballers on TFC

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