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Toronto FC Winning the Offseason the Right Way

It hasn't been flashy or front page worthy, but Toronto FC are finally going about their offseason in a manner that makes sense.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

They won't have anyone spitting out their tea as they read the morning paper, or even crowding Pearson airport. But Toronto's latest trio of signings have been enough to see Toronto FC win the offseason for the third straight year in the court of public opinion.

Acquiring three All-star calibre MLS players, Drew Moor, Steven Beitashour and Will Johnson, has made headlines around the league. It isn't even January yet, where the European window opens and MLS clubs traditionally make their biggest splashes.

What has been all too familiar for those around BMO Field, however, is that winning the offseason is really an oxymoron. There are no games in the offseason, nothing tangible to prove that the club has done anything to improve the on-field product.

The only people who win in the offseason are marketing teams, and Toronto has certainly had their share of triumphs on that front. Their first offseason championship in particular will live long in the memory.

In 2014, Toronto got a taste of what it was like to be London, England for a day. The city announced the arrival of foreign superstar Jermain Defoe with a red double-decker bus and newspapers that mimicked a London tabloid.

Less than a year late the offseason message was all about forgetting Defoe, who had ultimately been pinned as the villain for a disappointing 2014 season. It was about embracing new designated players who were committed to what the club was trying to build.

So as Toronto round the bend with a sizeable lead for the third straight MLS offseason, the club's fan base seems to have finally gotten the moral of the story. What looks good on paper in January can end up blowing up on the field in October.

But there's something different about the way Toronto have gone about this offseason, and it doesn't just have to do with what type of players they have acquired. It's everything surrounding these moves that suggests they have learned from past mistakes.

For one, these are in no way marketing moves. Outside of the most invested Toronto supporters, few will know any of these players. Even the most passionate TFC supporters likely did a google search or two to see what they could find out.

Johnson, being that he is a Canadian international, might be the only move the team made with marketing even slightly in mind. Even then, however, that would only pander to a small group of the club's supporters.

There were no big press conferences to announce these moves. The club appears to have humbled itself a bit in this regard, preferring to let the play of its new players do the talking.

Oh, and the moves make a lot of sense too. Instead of trying to build a backline based on the best European resume they could find, the team has acquired players who have not only proven to be successful defenders, but have done so within the league.

Johnson is in a similar position, even if where he fits in the midfield is not exactly clear. Just based on how many other teams were interested in all of these players indicates just how big those acquisitions were for the club.

Its probably the first time in club history that the holes in the lineup have been filled by players who are proven commodities in Major League Soccer. It's a rebuilding method that seems like common sense, but there has never been much of that around this club.

The moves aren't worth celebrating just yet, until a Toronto backline resembles something comprehensive on the field then being able to defend in a TFC shirt will still be a myth. Behind them, their best goalkeeping option is a 21-year-old whose biggest career achievement is a goal he scored at the U-17 World Cup.

Plus, Toronto still have to answer the question as to how they will fit all of their new moves under the league's salary cap. They don't have to fully answer it until March, but it likely means a few other players leaving.

At the end of the day, whether Toronto win the offseason or not won't be determined until the end of next season. But at least how the club has been going about it makes a lot more sense this time.