Toronto FC start of the year on the road for 8 straight matches while BMO field renovations are completed. Will TFC be able to come away with at least 8 points prior to their home coming? That was the minimum requirement set out by Toronto FC president Bill Manning ahead of the season.
Sunday, March 6th, 2016 @ 1:30pm vs. New York Red Bulls
The season starts off against the Eastern Conference heavyweights, the New York Red Bulls. The last time that the Red Bulls and TFC faced off Giovinco provided arguably the most magical moment of the 2015 season choosing to dribble around the New York Red Bull midfield and defence eventually finishing clinically, helping Toronto FC solidify a playoff spot. New York still has a strong backline, but slightly less so now that Matt Miazga has gone to Chelsea. The Red Bull's midfield also possesses a solid anchor in Dax McCarthy and the playmaker of Sacha Kljestan. Finally Bradley Wright-Phillips one of the deadliest strikers in the league will still be leading the line for New York. This will be a great early test for TFC. How and who will Vanney play in midfield? Will the new defensive reinforcements be able to shut down BWP? I can maybe see TFC nicking a draw but a loss is the most likely result.
Prediction: Loss, 0 points on the season.
Sunday, March 13, 2016 @5:00pm New York City FC
One week following the battle with the Red Bulls Toronto FC will travel to New York City to face the sophomore New York City FC. NYCFC utilized their relationship with Manchester City choosing to employ footballing legend Patrick Vieira as their new head coach. Last season the battles between NYCFC and TFC provided some classics like the 4-4 Giovinco vs David Villa duel. NYCFC have made some additions bringing in MLS veteran Ethan White, adding a young Costa Rican international Ronald Matarrita and finally by making a draft day trade, they added former Manchester United academy midfielder and 2016 MLS Superdraft 1st overall pick Jack Harrison. NYCFC still have a lot of questions marks around their defence. Also David Villa is edging closer to 40 years of age than 30. Toronto FC should be able to shut him down and come away with a win.
Prediction: Win, 3 points on the season.
Sunday, March 20, 2016 @ 7:00pm vs. Sporting Kansas City
In their one meeting last year Toronto FC lost to Sporting KC 3-1 at home. This offseason Sporting KC managed to become even stronger than they were last year. Personally for me they are Supporter Shield and MLS cup favourites. The additions of solid MLS veterans Justin Mapp and Brad Davis makes the teams attack very scary. Those two roster additions come in to join MLS MVP candidate Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer and Matt Besler. Peter Vermes is going to have to figure out how to utilize all of his players but this season SKC will be a force to be reckoned with. I can't see TFC getting any points on the road in Kansas City.
Prediction: Loss, 3 points on the season.
Saturday, April 2, 2016 @ 9:00pm vs. Colorado Rapids
Drew Moor and Clint Irwin get to visit their old stomping grounds one month into the season. TFC's gains have been Colorado's losses. Toronto FC has seemingly managed to solve its goalkeeping and centre halve weakness by taking away two key pieces from Colorado's back five. In their one matchup last season Toronto FC managed to come away with a comfortable 3-1 win against Colorado at home. This season Colorado is going to have a tough time. Their key addition so far has been a trade with Seattle acquiring Marco Pappa. Other than that Colorado still has a lot of questions marks. TFC should come away with a win in this one.
Prediction: Win, 6 points on the season.
Saturday, April 9, 2016 @ 4:00pm vs. New England Revolution
Last season TFC only managed to come away with one point in three matches against the Revs. This offseason has been a very quiet one for the New England faithful. The Jermaine Jones situation is still crazy. Even if he does re-sign he has to serve a suspension for blowing his gasket on an official. Despite the quiet offseason so far New England still has quality in attack featuring Lee Nguyen, Charlie Davies, Juan Agudelo and Kelyn Rowe. This match will be huge test showing if Toronto FC's additions are enough for them to overcome solid Eastern Conference opposition and climb the table to the top of the East.
Prediction: Draw, 7 points on the season.
Saturday, April 16, 2016 @ 7:00pm vs. D.C. United
Toronto actually managed to come away with 4 points in 2 games against D.C. United last season. The project in D.C. is a very interesting one. The spine of the team is very solid, featuring outstanding keeper Bill Hamid, solid Bobby Boswell and a reliable Perry Kitchen. Ben Olsen is going to have to juggle his attack because all of his strikers are now over the age of 30. But at the end of the season it won't be a surprise seeing D.C. United make the playoffs.
Prediction: Draw, 8 points on the season.
Saturday, April 23, 2016 @ TBD vs. Montreal Impact
The first 401 derby comes in near the end of the long 8 game road trip. By then TFC and Greg Vanney will have a good idea in regards to who his first choice players are. These derby's are a must win no matter what. Following TFC's exit in last years playoffs at the hand of the Impact and their striker Drogba. Who is still questionable for return, TFC and their supporters will be keen for vengeance. Montreal still has tricky attack minded players like Ignacio Piatti and Andres Romero on the squad. But now with TFC's back line solidified the matchup should be different and Toronto FC should come away with a win.
Prediction: Win, 11 Points on the season.
Sunday, May 1, 2016 @ 3:30pm vs. Portland Timbers
Finally TFC's long road trip ends in Portland facing the defending MLS cup champions Portland Timbers. The main story line will be the return of Portland Timbers former captain and current Toronto FC midfielder Will Johnson. This battle will be mostly about the midfield matchup. If Vanney has managed to figure out his midfield he will be able to come up with an answer to Portland's impressive midfield that features Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri and Diego Chara. Finally Clint Irwin, Drew Moor and Damien Perquis will have to show their mettle against a beast of a striker in Fanendo Adi. In their one matchup last year Toronto FC managed to come away with all the points thanks to a wonder strike from talismanic Giovinco.
Prediction: Loss, 11 points on the season.
Following the 8 game away trip Toronto FC will return home to face FC Dallas. It is hard to predict how the season will go because not every team's roster is solidified. Major transfers are still possible during the summer months. Additionally when one has match winners like Giovinco, Bradley and Altidore on the roster TFC can win any game. Now that the TFC back line has been improved TFC should be able to match up against most teams in the MLS. The real challenge for Vanney will be trying to rotate the squad through injuries and international call ups. 8 points is very possible but I think TFC should come away with at least 10 points through the first 8 games.