Toronto FC are already looking towards the 2014 MLS season having started to build up their roster and now their plans for the preseason are becoming more clear. After several years of engaging in questionable training camps including a complete lack of games in recent years it seems the club is set to do things a little bit different in 2014.
According to a report in the Bradenton Herald the club will be one of six MLS clubs spending over a month (late January through February) training and playing friendlies at the IMG Academy. TFC will be joined by the Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, and the New England Revolution in Florida as part of a partnership between MLS and the training centre.
The partnership allows the six MLS teams free use of the facilities in Bradenton and the centralized location will allow for all the games to be streamed. By locating six east coast MLS teams in one area it should help to create more opportunities for friendlies between the clubs and give it a feel similar to what you get with spring training in baseball.
Taking part in this event may mean that Toronto FC will not be included in the 2014 Walt Disney Pro Soccer Classic but that has not been ruled out at this point. The field for that event already includes Orlando, the Montreal Impact, Sporting Kansas City, the Philadelphia Union, and the Columbus Crew. The remaining teams have yet to be announced but at least one team, the Columbus Crew, look set to take part in the event along with training at IMG.
There is no clear picture yet what spending spring training at IMG Academy will look like for TFC but it appears they will take part in a series of friendlies against the five other MLS teams as well as potential match-ups against international sides.
After a couple years of only playing in the Mickey Mouse Cup and a game or two against Florida based college teams this should be a welcome change for the club. Not only do they look like they will have a nearly complete roster in place before heading down to Florida this year but they might actually come out of preseason ready to play competitive games.
There is no word yet from the club on what their preseason plans will be but considering that some fans enjoy heading down to Florida to watch the team play that news will hopefully not be too far off.