Over the past week or so we have taken a look at all the areas of Toronto FC's squad. We worked our way all around the pitch starting with the goalkeepers and touching on the midfielders, the forwards, and then wrapping things up with the defenders. On they whole we had a lot of good things to say about the first three areas that we covered. It was not until we got to the back four that the problems really started to arise. Considering that as things currently stand, until some more signings are made official, the options Toronto has in defense are probably worse then the group that shipped goals at a record pace at point last season things are not so good.
The strongest area of the team in terms of quality and depth was probably in goal. Having the options of Stefan Frei and Milos Kocic both on the roster gives Toronto the luxury of two keepers that are capable of not only starting but also of doing well at this level. Only a select few MLS teams can make a serious claim to having a better duo in goal then these two. The only real question that came up in that area of the squad was who should be the number one, so to speak. I think that either answer is fine but in my eyes it has to be Frei until he actually does something to lose the job.
As already noted, the options in defense are in need of more than a little help right now. As it stands we could be looking at a best back four of Ashtone Morgan, Ty Harden, Doneil Henry, and Matt Stinson. Other than Ty that is three young players who still have a fair bit of upside but there is no way that such a back four would give this team a chance to compete. Even with 12th overall pick Aaron Maund capable of chipping in, and Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams on the mend there is still a lot left to address here. Now if the rumours of Richard Eckersley, Miguel Acevel and Geovanny Caicedo all being close to signing deals with the team are true then suddenly this area of the team is solid but still unspectacular.
It looks like no matter what this season will be another case of defending by committee as there are no sure far studs in the defensive options but there are a number of guys who can contribute. If Toronto is to become a playoff team this season then this is the area where most of the questions remain to be answered.The midfield of the team is looking a fair bit better than the defensive options. In fact, this is probably the deepest part of the squad but is also the area that will have the most responsibility in Winter's 4-3-3. With the likes of Torsten Frings, Julian De Guzman, and Terry Dunfield, the options in the defensive role are solid and experienced. With Eric Avila and Luis Silva the options at the top of the midfield are young and explosive. As far as the depth options like Elbekay Bouchiba, Oscar Cordon, Matt Stinson, and Jeremy Hall are concerned, this starting group is going to need to log a serious amount of minutes for the team to do well this season. The backups are capable of making contributions from time to time but a period of extended reliance on them would be a bit much as they are all basically unproven quantities at this stage.
Up top the team has some great starters but a lack of backup options in my eyes. If you have a starting trio of Danny Koevermans, Joao Plata, and Ryan Johnson then you could probably go goal for goal with basically any side in the league. Then coming off the bench you have the ever solid and totally unspectacular Nick Soolsma as well as the new comer Reggie Lambe who should bring a fair bit of pace and ability to cross the ball. It is the options behind Koevermans that are the most worrying. Other than moving Johnson or someone else to the centre forward position the only real option on the bench would be Keith Makabuya and he was basically a non-factor last season making only one appearance.
The sad part about the forward line continues to be the reports surrounding Nicholas Lindsey who is reportedly set to miss another complete season. He missed all of last season due to an injury that he suffered in a snowmobile accident that basically ruined his knees. Now his road back to the squad seems like it might just be too long. The club might be willing to stick with him for another year but he is a long ways off from playing in an MLS match every again.
On the whole this Toronto team still has it share of questions marks but with the right 2 or 3 additions in the coming days they look primed to at the very least push for a playoff spot and hopefully make it for the first time in the club's history.
So here is what I would say is the current starting roster (clearly subject to change with the signings that are hopefully coming soon)
I would probably have a bench of: Milos Kocic, Aaron Maund, Luis Silva, Reggie Lambe, Nick Soolsma, Terry Dunfield, and Jeremy Hall.