With Toronto FC picking up midfielder Tsubasa Endoh ninth overall in the 2016 SuperDraft, the club is running out of time to make additions prior to preseason. With training camps opening on January 22nd, we examine the current state of Toronto FC and where they may be lacking heading into preseason.
Nobody will be surprised when Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore are the starting strikers game in and game out next season, however it is depth at the forward position that could be a concern for this team. While both DPs were major contributors to Toronto FC's success in 2015, the team will likely have to play without them come June.
With the European Championship and Copa America overlapping this summer, both Giovinco and Altidore could be called up to their national teams. Despite MLS breaking for the group stage of the Copa America, if the USA qualify for the quarterfinals or beyond Toronto FC could be without two major attacking pieces.
In step Herculez Gomez, Luke Moore, and Jordan Hamilton. While Hamilton saw only thirteen minutes of MLS action last season, the weight will likely be on the shoulders of Gomez and Moore - but the numbers aren't in their favour. Gomez had 0.4 goals per ninety minutes last season while Moore boasts a 0.14 - not convincing statistics compared to 0.65 of Altidore or 0.71 of Giovinco.
While 2016 should be a strong season up top for Toronto's offense, expect to see the goal tally drop off as the summer months hit and the bench plays a larger role.
Arguably the most complete midfield seen on a Toronto FC roster and the strongest midfield in the league, the middle of the pitch is where fans can rest knowing there is skill and experience. After adding Will Johnson this off season, Toronto FC boasts a midfield filled with Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Benoit Cheyrou and five other players able to make an impact off the bench.
While the lineup and tactics are to be worked out by boss Grey Vanney, players such as Collen Warner, Daniel Lovitz, and Marky Delgado all have at least two years MLS experience under their belt. These players will all be able to assist as Bradley will be on the USA's roster for the Copa America. If the US qualify for the quarters and beyond, he could miss matches against the LA Galaxy and Orlando City.
The SuperDraft addition of Endoh could prove to be a resource off the bench come injury or absence, but more importantly he is able to play both in the centre and on the wing, adjusting to the TFC's needs. Overall fans can look comfortably at the midfield knowing they have the personnel to get results absences or not.
Historically, the Toronto FC defense has been the team's downfall. Poor singings and consistent late goals have squandered results that the offense has worked hard to earn. Tied for most goals conceded in MLS last year, Toronto FC can only look up, right? As usual, Toronto FC has "won the offseason" and solidified the backline with MLS veterans Steven Beitashour and Drew Moor inking contracts. With both expected starters they will help regulars Josh Williams and Justin Morrow improve on what was a horrific year in front of goal.
While the starters look have the experience and grit required in MLS defending, injuries could be a concern for this team. If any of the above players pick up long term injuries the bench who saw sporadic minutes at the end of last season will have to step in. With likely subs of Morgan, Hagglund, and Zavaleta expect Toronto FC to work the subs in as the season progresses to give the starters a rest.
If two is company and three is a crowd, Toronto FC fans will be hoping that the options between the posts don't get too comfortable. With Quillan Roberts and Alex Bono the only two goalkeepers on the Toronto FC roster, this is the area of the pitch with the least experience and the most question marks. With no MLS minutes between them, Toronto FC fans should expect a third keeper with experience to be signed before the season begins to fill the starting role. If no signing is announced within the coming weeks the two keepers will be looking to outplay each other in preseason to earn the starting spot come March 6th.