After a long road trip and a return to a renovated home, it certainly has been an eventful sixteen games to begin the season. At this point of the season, a suitable sample size has been accumulated through which teams can accurately assess their play and what needs to be done going into the summer transfer window.
For Toronto FC, now is the time to address the weaknesses that have been displayed by the team. It is unfair to point fingers at any single player this season as having poor starts to their year (Jozy Altidore bashing aside, that is a separate discussion for another day). At this point in the season, the issue for Toronto has been a lack of depth throughout the squad, but how are they to address this need when being in a cap crunch? Who must go in order to provide the flexibility to add depth to the squad? (All salary figures are player's base contracts).
*= Contract is likely in roster spots 21-28, meaning does not count towards the cap.
Clint Irwin has been the quality keeper that the team hoped for when they traded for him. His salary is a steal and there is nothing to be mad at here. But with him out for the next six weeks, the question remains as to whether Alex Bono or Quillan Roberts are ready to step into the net on a consistent basis. Of all the depth issues with the squad, goalkeeping is at the bottom of the list. At the same time, none of the team's goalkeepers are being overpaid and should not be looked at when searching for salaries to cut.
Another successful offseason acquisition, Steven Beitashour has been worth his salary this season. Mark Bloom has seen some time with TFC2, and also a game for TFC, albeit in the midfield. With Beitashour out injured, Vanney elected to play Nick Hagglund at right back, who did a capable job. In a league with salary cap restraints like MLS, having players of the quality like Beitashour and Bloom is very good depth to have at right back. But if you really wanted to be picky, a team in need of a solution at right back may trade for Bloom, allowing TFC to replace him with a cheaper academy product. That would probably save about $30,000 in cap space, but at that point is the $30,000 worth trading Mark Bloom for?
Another position at which Toronto has good depth. However, the possibility exists that Toronto could trade one of Morrow or Morgan if needed to in order to open up cap space. For Morrow, there are certainly some who think that he could be adequately replaced by Morgan. If that were the case, that would be a somewhat larger salary off the books for Toronto and could give them flexibility at another position. It is unlikely, however, as Morrow has been one of the club's most consistent performers.
Damien Perquis. That’s the name that stands out when looking at this list. Everyone below him in the salary pecking order is currently doing a good job earning their salary and is worth more to the team as a member of the 18 rather than a trade bait piece. Not that Perquis hasn’t been good this season, he just hasn’t been worth his massive cap hit. But in his case, a trade involving Perquis is easier said than done. It is unlikely that a team would be willing to take on Perquis’s contract for anything of value or that provides immediate cap relief. The only chance Toronto may have at a deal involving Perquis would be in a trade modelled after the Orlando City Colin trade, maybe retain some of his salary and then just take back a cheap draft pick. More realistically, a team would probably be willing to pay a nice amount for someone like Josh Williams or Eriq Zavaleta, something Toronto may have to consider this summer.
For a team that either plays with three or four central midfielders a game, Toronto does have decent depth at the position. With Michael Bradley, Will Johnson, Benoit Cheyrou, and Jonathan Osorio, Toronto has four good to great MLS starting calibre midfielders, not to mention Marco Delgado who could become a member of this list. With two of them injured long term, however, things get pretty thin. The team only has Jay Chapman and Chris Mannella, the former who has looked good in his limited minutes with the team this season, but it's a big ask to fill that hole. No one on this list looks to be a candidate for the trading block, but if the opportunity ever arose to add another depth midfielder, someone in the $100,000 range, that is something that the team should consider.
Two things stand out when looking at Toronto’s list of strikers and wingers; 1) Not a whole lot of reliable experience coming off the bench, 2) No real right wingers in the team either. Not to say that the young group of Hamilton, Lovitz, Babouli and Endoh haven’t been good this season, but it would be unwise to rely upon them going into the playoffs or if Jozy Altidore continues to have injury problems. The reported incoming signing of Canadian men’s national team forward Tosaint Ricketts would help in regards to both of those problems but it remains to be seen if that will be enough. In a perfect world Toronto would be able to flip Perquis’s contract for one or two proven MLS strikers who could take some of the workload off of Sebastian Giovinco.
Recommended Trading Block:
1. Damien Perquis
2. Josh Williams/Eriq Zavaleta
3. Ashton Morgan/Justin Morrow
Summer Transfer Shopping List:
1. 1-2 MLS proven forwards, one of which can play on the right wing
2. Another helpful central midfielder for depth
Don’t do anything, besides trying to get rid of Perquis’s contract. This Toronto team is one or two players away from being a side with both a great starting 11 and good depth. Both are important to have especially next year when Toronto will be playing in the Champions League. A move this summer that forces the team to trade a Josh Williams or an Ashton Morgan is very risky. It could help in the short term when it comes to a playoff push, provided that there are no major injuries. But in the long term, moves like those look to hamper Toronto’s chances of competing in both MLS and Champions League games.
The main thing that Toronto FC needs to add right now is goals, and the easiest way to do that would be to add some strike depth. Another creative midfielder could also help, especially with Bradley and Johnson's injury situations. Either way, it will certainly be the attack that Toronto looks to address during the transfer window.