Ever since the Major League Soccer offseason started it has been a feeding frenzy in the transfer market. All the league had to do was throw in a little bait in the form of $4 million in discretionary targeted allocation money (TAM), and pieces have started shifting.
Darlington Nagbe is now a member of Atlanta United, Sacha Kljestan moved to Orlando City, Kei Kamara joined the Vancouver Whitecaps and Los Angeles FC acquired Laurent Ciman and Benny Feilhaber. A couple of the league’s best have improved as well. New York City FC have added a promising young designated player while Atlanta look like they will do the same.
The defending MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield winners Toronto FC, meanwhile, have remained incredibly quiet. Save for a couple of rumours and a homegrown signing the club hasn’t been in the transfer news headlines very much of late.
All of this perceived inactivity, while TFC’s rivals have already grown significantly stronger, has some fans of the club getting impatient. It doesn’t help that fan favourites Raheem Edwards and Steven Beitashour have departed.
However, while the rest of the league continues to throw money and assets around, it is worth being patient with Toronto FC. They are in a unique position, and one where patience is the best policy.
The difference between Toronto and the rest of the field largely comes with what they already possess. TFC still has the majority of the parts that combined to make a team which won the league by 12 points. Simply put, Toronto doesn’t have the same holes to fill as other teams.
This doesn’t mean they should rest on their laurels, obviously, but nothing about what the club has said publicly indicates this is happening. Management has repeatedly indicated they are looking to strengthen the club in multiple facets ahead of next season.
The offseason plan appears to be mostly one of reinforcement. The club plans to add another midfielder, some help on the backline and at least one skillful wide player.
What’s more is they have the means to do it as well. While the club will go into the offseason with very little cap space, they do have $4 million dollars in discretionary targeted allocation money. MLSE will have to foot the bill for 2.8 million of that, but all of it will be made available for GM Tim Bezbatchenko.
So why does it appear as though so little is happening on the transfer front? For one, management does its homework. Essentially all of the players Toronto FC bring in they have been watching for an extended period so the club’s moves don’t need to be reactive. This club has also become a far tighter ship, one that does not leak information in the way that it did in the past.
Bezbatchenko also needs to make sure that the pieces he adds are complementary. Under his watch, the club has already developed a recipe for success and any additional ingredients need to be carefully considered.
Toronto FC’s management showed themselves to be quite good at this task last season, with Victor Vazquez, Chris Mavinga and Nicolas Hasler all playing big roles in improving the squad. They were the pieces that took the club over that final hurdle.
TFC didn’t sign Mavinga until January 31. They didn’t add Vazquez until February 20. So there is still plenty of time for Bezbatchenko to make sure he gets the right pieces in place.
The season starts a little earlier this year. It would be nice to have new players in place to integrate them before that happens. But with new pieces or without, this Toronto FC team will still be favourites to beat a Colorado Rapids team that finished near the bottom of the league last season.
Despite all their success in 2017, Toronto FC’s management is not above judgement. But it is not worth judging until their full body of work has been revealed. Suspend the worry for a couple of months, and by then, surely, there will be some answers on the transfer front.