Concluding our look at just where Toronto FC stands heading into preseason, we finally get to the defence and despite the deliberate delay in getting to that part, it wasn't enough for reinforcements to arrive, and we actually lost a defender in Andy Iro. Given the whole point of this is to look at what we have now to see what needs to be resolved in preseason, I'll have to ignore those players who are rumoured to be coming in. For the sake of getting the squad together as early as possible to maximise familiarity, I hope those players do come on board shortly. If this post can be horribly out of date within the next few days, I'd be very happy.
While 2011 saw TFC often revert to a 5 man defence to solidify things at the back, I think it's pretty clear that Aron Winter's preferred default formation remains the 4-3-3. Last season, after Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams suffered season ending injuries, the available defenders weren't really capable of thriving in that formation so things had to be changed around. Hopefully 2012 will see a more talented and comfortable defence that will be able to cope with the more attacking formation, and allow Torsten Frings to move back to his midfield position.
We'll start at Left Back where Ashtone Morgan should be an obvious choice to start after a very good end to 2011 that saw him earn a place in the Canada team. Hopefully he can continue his development, and I'm fairly confident he will, but there's always a chance he could struggle in his second year, and after losing Danleigh borman and Mikael Yourasssowsky in the off-season, there's currently no obvious backup at all in the squad.
At Right Back, Matt Stinson's probably the best bet currently officially signed, he did very well as the Right Back last season but that was generally amid a 5 man defence that provided more cover, could he do a similar good job as part of a 4 man unit? If not, the back up option is Jeremy Hall, and though I haven't really seen much of his work, I'm not really all that confident that that's a great option.
It's at Centre back that we really need to be nervously looking around for assurance that these new guys are going to be coming soon right? Right? Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams played quite well last year and showed that they can be an average MLS CB partnership, and both of them will be back with the team. Unfortunately both are coming off injuries so who knows exactly when they'll be ready. Without them, well for now it's Ty Harden who despite some improved performances towards the end of last year, I doubt there's anyone jumping up and down that he's the first choice. His partner? Well with Andy Iro not coming back, that leaves us with Doneil Henry, who after a couple of seasons on the fringes of the first team, may be ready to take that step forward and claim a starting spot, but that's a big risk. If it doesn't work out, next up is new SuperDraft pick Aaron Maund, and then, well that's it.
All three positions could be improved if the signings of Richard Eckersley, Chilean defender Miguel Aceval and Ecuadorian defender Geovanny Caicedo turn from long rumoured, or 99% done into officially confirmed. Whether it's those players in particular, or other triallists or draft picks, it's in defence that we really need to see answers from preseason. As it stands this is what we've got, yikes.
*Cann and Williams would both be first choice if fit.