Editor's Note: Just like with the club we cover, when Waking The Red announces new writers, we like to do it in bunches. Please welcome Anthony Cheung (@anthonycheung14) to the team. He is currently in high school and a massive TFC supporter. He actually enjoys going to school (the man clearly has issues) and has a passion for journalism (yup, issues). At BMO Field, he finds himself constantly yelling at referees and cheering until the last minute. He played competitive soccer and used to be a referee (he yelled at himself).
With another exciting offseason almost all in the books, it is now down to each player to perform and contribute to get Toronto into the playoffs for the first time. This year, optimism is back for a second year with a bunch of new players, a strong core from last season, and one extra playoff spot. Last year showed plenty of promise, glimpses of what the club can produce at full force, but still ended in upset. As preseason training gets underway at the KIA Training Ground, we predict player contributions and form for the upcoming season. (alphabetical order)
Jozy Altidore: Altidore could prove to be exactly what we need at BMO field this season. In Jozy, we have a very physical striker who is MLS proven. After 3 tough years with Sunderland scoring only 3 goals in all competitions, he is definitely looking to rebound since the Gold Cup is fast approaching (not to mention the Copa America). My prediction is that he will have a 10-15 goal season depending on who partners with him up top.
Manny Aparicio: Last season, Aparicio did not see any first team action as he is still very young and has tons of potential. He played very well for Wilmington in the 19 matches he was down there. Expect him to play in Vaughan with TFC II in USL-PRO for almost the entire season and hopefully be in the squad for the Canadian Championship.
Joe Bendik: One of the bright spots from last season, minding the net exceptionally well immediately after Julio Cesar's departure. He stayed pretty consistent throughout the whole season but he definitely needs to improve his kicking because he made too many mistakes in that area. He will be the No. 1 keeper for the whole season but now with the highly rated draft addition of Alex Bono, he will need to emulate last season's performances.
Mark Bloom: Another bright spot from last season, Bloom proved that there is real quality in NASL. He surpassed expectations, stayed consistent, and cemented a key role at RB. In August after he returned from his MCL injury, his form dropped a little but remained vital for TFC's playoff push. Expect Bloom to be the main right-back for TFC but should he be injured, Marky Delgado or Warren Creavalle will be capable enough to fill his boots.
Michael Bradley: Last year, all the buzz was about Jermain Defoe and Bradley coming to Toronto. We knew that Defoe would attract more attention but Bradley would be the more important signing. Throughout the course of last season, Ryan Nelsen and Greg Vanney asked too much of the American international, accumulating too much fatigue and as a result, hampered his performance at the World Cup in Brazil. This season, we will see Bradley play in his natural and most effective role. This year with a fresh start and the additions of Sebastien Giovinco and Benoît Cheyrou, expect Bradley to play as a deep-lying playmaker switching the play or sending deep balls behind opposing defenders.
Steven Caldwell: The captain of Toronto FC is not getting any younger but is still a key component of our squad. Last season was full of injuries for Caldwell and I'm sure there will be more to come. Vanney is still debating whether M.B. or Caldwell should be captain especially with Caldwell seeing the physio more than the pitch. Expect Caldwell to partner at CB with new addition Damien Perquis. I see Caldwell playing about 20 games during the regular season with the rest of the time injured. If he can remain healthy though, please prove me wrong..., then that may decide TFC's fate as to whether or not they make playoffs.
Jay Chapman: Signed right before the Superdraft otherwise he would have gone as a top #15 pick. Was part of TFC Academy for 2 years and went to Michigan State University. It is Chapman who pushed Bekker out of Toronto FC and hopefully he can see minutes in the first team. For the record, he attracted attention from Sunderland, Swansea, Ashton Villa, and Celtic during his time in college. Expect Chapman to be in and out of the first team, coming off the bench and developing with TFC II.
Warren Creavalle: Acquired last season from Houston, he did not see too many minutes with Warner as a backup in CM and Bloom as a starter at RB. When Bloom got injured, Creavalle did play but was unable to fully establish himself. Showed promised and fans enjoyed that skillful goal he scored in the last home game vs Montreal. Expect him to serve as a backup at both CM and RB but with the exciting additions of Jay Chapman and Marky Delgado, I regretfully say he may get bumped down the depth chart. I expect him to play a part in 8-10 matches with half of them off the bench.
Benoît Cheyrou: Another very impressive signing who was included three times in Ligue 1 Team of the Year, we now know a little more on how Vanney will use his midfielders. Cheyrou and Bradley will be at the heart of midfield with Giovinco playing higher up. Last season, the most effective CM pairing was Osorio and Bradley but honestly, it wasn't all that impressive. Cheyrou will compliment Bradley quite well as they are both possession type players and will also be huge when Bradley heads off to the Gold Cup.
Marco Delgado: Acquired from the Chivas USA dispersal draft, Marky has tons of talent and was recently with the U-20 US national team in the Under 20s CONCACAF Championship. Expect him to play as a RB constantly challenging Mark Bloom for minutes. His versatility will be a huge boost when key players get injured.
Bright Dike: When he played in that home win against D.C. United in 2013, we saw what Dike was capable of producing. His career has been full of injuries and because of his long term injury suffered during preseason last year, he missed the chance to play for Nigeria at the World Cup. That sucks. He will force his way back into Vanney's plans but will most likely serve as a backup, coming off the bench in late game situations. I expect Dike to score 5 goals and provide another dimension to this already stacked offense.