Looking back at 2015 at the season ending press conference yesterday, Toronto FC's players feel like they got what they deserved this year, even if it wasn't what they wanted.
The team was happy with having been the group to finally see Toronto FC qualify for a playoff spot, but were not satisfied after their season ended with a 3-0 loss to rival Montreal Impact in the knockout round.
"After 30 minutes the game was over," said Sebastian Giovinco through a translator. "That's sad because the city and the club has been waiting for this playoff game for nine years. We didn't have a real chance to play the game because after 30 minutes it was over."
Captain Michael Bradley says they made progress this year, but when the going got tough the club never really seemed to get going.
"When the end of they year came and the real big games came we weren't able to do what so many of us wanted and go on a real run and see if we could really be playing until the end," said Bradley.
Asked why, Bradley thinks the answer is obvious, and he is certainly not alone in his opinion: the club's defending needs to get better from back to front. They conceded far too many goals this year, and in the end they couldn't overcome that fact.
"We were having to score as many goals as we did just to give ourselves a chance," explained Bradley. "That's by no means me pointing the finger at the defenders, we are all in this together."
He also points to consistency as a key thing that this club were missing this year. They would put something positive together, especially defensively, and then it would fall apart again in the next match.
"Just when we were ready to make a really good step we'd go backwards in some ways," he said. "Good teams, teams that are going to have a chance to win something, you have to be able to win games 1-0."
For Jozy Altidore, who joined his good friend Bradley in Toronto this year, accomplishing their goals was always going to require patience.
"We were always going to need a little bit more time to kind of show what people are expecting from us," explained Altidore. "We saw it in glimpses and patches but not throughout the season."
Benoit Cheyrou, who also played his first year with the club this season, agrees with Altidore's assessment. Having played several years in Ligue 1 for Marseille, he has certainly seen his fair share of clubs demolished and rebuilt.
"You cannot build a time in one season, by the past we know that it takes time to build a very good team," explained Cheyrou.
Cheyrou thinks that at the end of the day the team finished where they deserved to this season, although they expected to be higher.
"I think after 34 regular season games we are where we deserve to be," he said. "If we are only sixth this season we deserve to be sixth."
The long-time members of TFC acknowledge, however, that the team did move in the right direction this season, and the records that they set only go to show that fact.
"Overall, I think this club took a step forward," said Jonathan Osorio, "and that's what is had been doing now for the last couple of years. That's what it plans on doing for the future."
Michael Bradley is a Good Captain, Even if it Isn't Always Obvious.
One of the questions consistently asked of Toronto FC players was about Michael Bradley's leadership, which has been brought into question several times this season. The response, although expected, was resounding that he is an ideal captain.
"It might be hard for [the media] to see what Michael does for this team on and off the pitch," explained Justin Morrow. "Little things like having conversations with guys after practice. Things like that unite the team, give the team an idea of what we want to be together."
Josh Williams was curious about Bradley when he came to the club, having heard so much about him in the press. What he found out very quickly is that Bradley deserves everything he has achieved.
"He embodies everything you want out of a captain in my eyes," explained Josh Williams. "I get why he is where he is now. He comes out here, he busts his ass every day. He's a perfect leader, he's a perfect example."
What impresses Jonathan Osorio, who played alongside Bradley in Toronto's midfield, the most, is his dedication to the club.
"This guy is 24/7 thinking about how this team can improve and how this team can be successful," said Osorio. "That is an admirable thing about him."
Sebastian Giovinco Isn't Looking to Leave Toronto Anytime Soon.
Because of the season that he had, the rumours will fly all offseason about where Sebastian Giovinco will be playing his soccer next. Barcelona has already been linked with the Italian attacker, however nonsensical that may be.
For now, however, there was no indication that Giovinco is headed anywhere. He, along with Toronto's two other designated players, will be back when the club starts the 2016 season.
One of the options brought up to Giovinco was whether or not he will be going out on loan, as players like David Beckham and Theirry Henry have done in the past. This may be of interest to the Atomic Ant, as he is looking to impress enough to make Italy's Euro 2016 squad.
However, for now he is just focusing on Toronto saying that nothing is imminent when it comes to going out on a loan deal.
"I'm focused on next season and I hope to be even better than this year, and to make the city happy to thank them for the support and help" said Giovinco.
Benoit Cheyrou and Justin Morrow Hope to be Back.
Manager Tim Bezbatchenko says that re-signing Justin Morrow this offseason is a top priority, and the player echoes that sentiment. Here since 2014, Morrow had only good things to say about the club at the end of season press conference.
"Toronto has got to be up there with one of the top places to play in MLS," he said. "In terms of resources, the lifestyle you can have here, the city, the people, everything has been great."
Justin Morrow is, however, hoping that the club makes it clear to him how important of a piece he has been lately at the contract table.
Benoit Cheyrou, who was Bezbatchenko was not asked about, is also looking to return. His response, however, was certainly less committal than Morrow.
"I hope [I'm back], but we never know."