Toronto FC like to spin things. When everything goes wrong, they like to remind supporters of the good things that happened en route to their shortcomings. The people who have led this team like to give reasons, deflect questions and point to circumstances.
Last night it was the "process" that was pointed to, as if this was all part of some long-term plan. The future, that's what Toronto FC seem to have chosen as their diversion point this time around. It was the same thing that TFC talked about after last year's failure, in that regard the future is here and gives little more evidence that any progress is being made.
That's because, if there was any progress made, it wasn't enough. It's been brought up before, but it is worth bringing up again, if it wasn't for an expanded MLS playoff setup, or a conference with two expansion sides, Toronto FC wouldn't have made the playoffs.
Instead, questions need to be asked of just about everything to do with this team, with the exception of Sebastian Giovinco. This doesn't mean burning the team to the ground, as they have done so often it the past, there is at least some structure of a good team here.
It does mean questions about who built the team, however. Is Tim Bezbatchenko qualified, and ready, to make the moves required to take this team to the next level? He certainly fixed them in part this season: this is the best offensive unit Toronto FC have ever had. But it was also dismal defensively, something none of the many moves he made could fix.
Then, of course, the man who's head has been requested all season, and has slowly moved closer to the chopping block with each meaningful loss: Greg Vanney. Whether he is the right man to lead the club forward has been debated all season long.
If the club is going to finally axe Vanney, however, they have to have a plan in place. This can't just be another firing for firing's sake, the club has to think about it and evaluate their options. Vanney was certainly able to get a lot out of this team at time, but when it mattered most things fell apart.
More importantly, perhaps, is the club's on field leader, Michael Bradley. The club has put a lot of stock in Bradley, and by all accounts have given him a seat at the table when it comes to bringing in new players and making club decisions.
In this sense, and many others, Bradley isn't a traditional captain. Therefore his roll on this team needs to be scrutinized closer than any other player. Can a winning team in this league be build around Bradley? He is an engine in his own right,but hardly an offensive juggernaut as is the case with most other designated players around the league.
His deputy, Jozy Altidore, was what everyone could have expected statistically, but besides potting goals he wasn't much else. This may sound surprising considering that is his primary job, but with the money he is being paid Toronto FC need more out of him.
This is especially true when considering the fact that a fourth designated player could be brought in if one of the three currently existing designated players had a smaller price tag.
The other questions to be answered the offseason fall in line from there. What can the club do to finally fix their defensive woes? Does this team have enough depth to compete in a Major League Soccer field that is getting deeper annually? Will some of the player's from Toronto FC II finally get a chance to breakthrough with the first team.
Toronto FC can't brush these questions aside, they need to do something about them. Their response to these questions is ultimately how they will make real progress, not just seeing this as another step in their plan.