FanPost

Current State of the TFC Rebuild

This offseason for Toronto FC has seen a level of roster churn rarely seen at a professional sports club. Of 2021's 30-man roster, Toronto FC has seen 17 players depart through retirement, transfer, or end of contract, with 8 new players brought into the side so far (if we count Lorenzo Insigne, who joins TFC in the summer). The roster currently stands at 24 spots filled out of 30 (that math doesn't quite add up because TFC had three players out on season-long loan in 2021). One additional player is expected to depart, Kemar Lawrence, which will bring the total exodus to 18 players and the 2022 roster 7 players short.

So where does that leave TFC's 2022 roster with about two weeks left until the start of the season? Well, that's complicated, and to truly understand where TFC stand in their roster rebuild, we must first understand these "complications" known as the MLS Roster Rules.

Senior Roster Considerations

An MLS Roster is 30 players, divided into the Senior Roster (slots 1-20), and the Supplemental Roster (slots 21-30). Senior roster players can earn between the Senior roster minimum, $84,000 (an increase from last year), and the max budget charge, $612,500 (same as 2021), with some exceptions discussed below. The Senior roster is the only one that counts against the league's salary cap (termed "Salary Budget in MLS parlance), which was set at $4.9M in 2021. That number won't change in 2022, as the CBA agreed between the League and the players only sees annual increases to the cap starting in 2023. Note, the salary cap includes all guaranteed player salaries, but also any signing bonuses, transfer fees paid to acquire that player, and any reasonably attainable bonuses.

One way MLS teams can get around the salary cap is through the well known Designated Player (DP) rule. Each team can sign up to 3 Designated Players (DPs), for whom a large part of their salary is not counted against the salary cap. DPs can earn any amount and can be acquired for any amount paid in acquisition fees. Each signed DP for a team incurs a salary budget charge of $612,500 against the salary cap if 24 years of age or older (or half that amount if they join in the summer transfer window); DPs between 21 and 23 incur a charge of $200,000 and DPs under 21 incur a charge of $150,000. Toronto's 3 DPs are expected to be Alejandro Pozuelo ($4.7M in guaranteed compensation in 2021), Lorenzo Insigne (compensation rumoured to be in the range of $8M - 15M), and the recently acquired Carlos Salcedo (previous salary with Tigres was near $1M but could earn up to $1.6M with Toronto). All 3 are over 24, so Toronto will see a charge of $1,531,250 from their 2.5 DPs in 2022, unless that amount is bought down (more on that later).

The newest roster rule in MLS is the U22 initiative, launched in 2021. Unlike the DP rule, U22 players cannot make more than the max salary budget charge of $612,500 (with two exceptions, Homegrown U22s and SuperDraft U22s can make up to $812,500 in annual compensation). The only advantage of signing a player as a U22 is a reduced salary budget charge, as U22 players between 21 and 23 incur a charge of $200,000 against the salary cap, and U22s under 21 incur a charge of $150,000. In addition, acquisition costs for newly signed U22 players don't count against the salary cap. To be eligible, a U22 player must be signed to their first MLS contract at 22 or younger (or their first or second contract if Homegrown).

Each team has at least one U22 slot and will have three if any one of their DPs is 23 or younger, or if their lowest salary DP makes less than $1,612,500 (known as max-TAM, more on that later). Toronto would have access to three U22 slots, with DP Carlos Salcedo rumoured to be making under the $1.6M threshold, but is unlikely to sign three U22s as that would lock them in until those contracts end. Instead, expect Toronto to have just the one U22; Ayo Akinola signed a U22 contract this offseason, and can make a salary of up to $812,500 (as a Homegrown player) while incurring a salary budget charge of only $200,000 for Toronto.

Finally, the salary cap can be exceeded using Allocation monies, namely General Allocation Money (GAM) and Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). GAM can be used to cover up to 100% of signing bonuses and acquisition costs for new players, and to cover up to 50% of a player's salary budget charge (otherwise known as "buying-down" that player's salary). TAM can similarly be used to cover acquisition costs and to "buy-down" players, though TAM can only be used for players that earn more than the max salary budget charge (i.e., more than $612,500 in 2022); TAM is like GAM, but only for high salary players. In addition, TAM is not limited to 50% of a player's salary; TAM can be used to cover any amount of a player's salary but is limited to use on players with up to a maximum salary of $1,612,500, a value known as max-TAM. When TAM or GAM are used to buy-down a player, that player can only be bought down to a lower limit of $150,000. Both TAM and GAM can be used to convert DPs to non-DP players, though TAM is generally used for this purpose considering it has the higher maximum salary of $1.6M.

TFC Allocation Money Deep-Dive

Tracking GAM and TAM can be pretty challenging for those outside the team since information on available GAM and TAM is not advertised to keep teams competitive in contract negotiations. In addition, GAM and TAM amounts unused in one season can roll over to the next, though some amounts can expire if they go unused for a prolonged period of time. You can almost think of GAM/TAM as extra cap space that rolls-over from year to year, with some stipulations on how it can be used.

We do know that Toronto's general allotment of GAM for 2022 is $1,625,000, plus additional amounts for not making the post-season in 2021 and an expansion allocation for Charlotte FC's entrance into the league, though those extra amounts are unknown (they were set at $200,000 and $100,000 respectively in 2019, but no updates for the years since). Note, GAM can also be earned for successful CONCACAF Champions League qualification ($140,000 in 2019), for losing a player in an Expansion Draft ($50,000 in 2019), and as part of the third Designated Player charge distribution ($150,000 paid into a pool by all teams with 3 DPs, split equally amongst teams without 3 DPs), but none of these apply to Toronto this year.

In addition, Toronto will have extra GAM from: (1) it's transfer of Richie Laryea to English Championship side Nottingham Forest, with 95% of those transfer proceeds going to the team (the league itself is entitled to the other 5%). Note, if Laryea was a Homegrown player, TFC would've been entitled to 100% of the proceeds. That transfer fee is unknown, but rumoured to be $1M, which would give Toronto $950,000 from the transfer. Proceeds from a transfer can be converted into GAM, up to an upper limit of $1,050,000. Therefore, Toronto could elect to convert any amount of that $950,000 to GAM, since it is below this upper limit.

And also from (2) 95% of the proceeds for any loaned player's loan fee (or 100% for Homegrown or U22 players), subject to that same upper limit. Note, MLS stipulates that loans to a team's second side, so TFC II in Toronto's case, must be a free loan, so no GAM can be recovered for loans to TFC II. Toronto just completed a season-long loan deal with Brazilian side Santos FC for right back Auro Jr. In addition, Toronto is expected to seek a loan for Luke Singh. Toronto should presumably receive some GAM amounts for these two loans, assuming a non-free loan fee for Luke Singh.

And finally, for (3) GAM amounts acquired in trades, which includes $75,000 of GAM acquired from Colorado during the Re-Entry Draft, another $50,000 from Dallas in exchange for Dom Dwyer and the 3rd overall pick in the SuperDraft, an amount of $400,000 from the LA Galaxy in exchange for Marky Delgado, and the recently acquired $575,000 in GAM from the NY Red Bulls to move up in the Allocation order.

So, for those not keeping track, that's a very rough estimate of $1,625,000 + $200,000 + $100,000 + $950,000 + $75,000 + $50,000 + $400,000 + $575,000 + any amounts from loan fees + any GAM amounts rolled over from last year. Basically, we expect a minimum of $3,975,000 in GAM available for Toronto in 2022, a pretty hefty amount to play with. The calculation for TAM is a little bit easier, since there are no additional amounts over the annual allotment; that allotment in 2022 is unchanged from 2021, so we can expect $2,800,000 in TAM, plus any amounts rolled over from last year, available for Toronto in 2022.

Finally, we can look at how much of that GAM/TAM is currently tied up in players on the current roster; any player making more than $612,500 and less than $1,612,500 will need to have GAM/TAM applied in order to bring those players' salaries into roster compliance. From the 2021 MLS Player Salaries Guide, we know that Michael Bradley ($1,500,000), Chris Mavinga ($887,500), and Jonathan Osorio ($876,250) had guaranteed compensation in that range last year, in addition to the departing Omar Gonzalez. Those amounts could increase, depending on the structure of the respective players' contracts, though that information will not be known until September. If those numbers are roughly the same, a total of $1,426,250 in GAM/TAM is tied up in those 3 players, with Michael Bradley's contribution of $887,500 necessarily being TAM rather than GAM.

Of TFC's new signings, Carlos Salcedo and Jesus Jimenez would be expected to fall into that salary range. Carlos Salcedo is currently on the roster as a DP. Salcedo could be converted down to a non-DP using GAM/TAM to sign another lucrative DP (as most all of #TFCLive on twitter are hoping for), though only if rumours of his salary being below max-TAM are true. If Salcedo were to be bought down, that would likely eat up in the range of $400,000 to $900,000 of TFC's remaining GAM/TAM, depending on Salcedo's salary. If that salary is more than $1,250,000, as I expect it is, then any buying down would have to happen with TAM rather than GAM.

And finally, Jesus Jimenez was brought into TFC by paying his contract's $650,000 buyout clause to Gornik Zabrze of Poland's Ekstraklasa (the top division in Polish soccer). That amount would be included in the player's salary budget charge for 2022, so that plus his salary for this year would put Jesus over the max salary budget charge of $612,500. As with all new signings, Jesus' salary is unknown; he was earning roughly $150,000 with Gornik Zabrze, but his value has been increasing since his last contract according to transfermarkt, so anything in the range of $200,000 to $600,000 could be realistic. That likely means another $200,000 to $650,000 of GAM/TAM is tied up in Jesus's acquisition/contract.

A potential alternative to using GAM to pay down Jimenez's acquisition costs might've been the so-called "Special Discovery" process (which is different from the Discovery Process, thanks as always to MLS for their convoluted rules and naming conventions). If Jimenez was designated a Special Discovery player, the acquisition costs (i.e., the contract buyout clause of $650,000) could be spread out over the term of his contract rather than counted against the cap all at once up front. Unfortunately, Jimenez isn't eligible to be a Special Discovery player, since players must be 27 years old or younger at the time of signing, and Jimenez is 28. Using GAM/TAM for Jimenez is unavoidable for TFC this season. It's not clear if TFC has a Special Discovery player on their roster either, which is an important consideration since the rule only allows a single such player on the roster at a time.

MLS Supplemental Roster

While all of the interesting rules only apply to the Senior roster, a well-organized Supplemental roster (roster slots 21-30), being completely outside of the salary cap, can allow a team executive to really pack value onto a team's roster/bench. Being completely outside the salary cap does not mean that teams magically have 10 new DP slots, since the Supplemental roster is limited to pretty strict min/max player salaries. That being said, those rules are relaxed a bit when it comes to Homegrown players, which is a real advantage for TFC. In MLS, a Homegrown player is any player who has been a member of the club's youth academy system for a least one year. Note, this youth academy membership doesn't have to be immediately before the signing of the player, as we saw this offseason with TFC's signing of former academy forward Deandre Kerr from his college stint with the Syracuse Orange.

The last two Supplemental roster spots, slots 29-30, have the most restrictive rules. Slots 29-30 must be filled with Homegrown players earning the Reserve minimum salary ($65,500 in 2022), or Homegrown players earning up $125,000 more than that ($190,500) subject to the Homegrown player subsidy. According to the MLS Roster Rules, there is no stated limit to the number of players to which you can apply the Homegrown player subsidy on the Supplemental Roster. So, in effect, slots 29-30 can be filled with Homegrown players earning between $65,500 and $190,500 per year. As the TFC roster stands, Jordan Perruzza and Jacob Shaffelburg occupy these slots. Even if either of those players were to be loaned out, which I don't expect, Toronto's depth of Homegrown talent means they have many players that could theoretically occupy those slots, including the aforementioned Deandre Kerr.

Next, Supplemental roster slots 25-28 are similar to slots 29-30 except they are no longer limited to Homegrown players, but also have one more additional limitation: players in slots 25-28 must be 24 years old or younger. In effect, slots 25-28 are for young Homegrown players earning between $65,500 and $190,500 per year, or for young non-Homegrown players earning exactly the Reserve minimum salary of $65,500 per year. TFC's roster on their website currently list seven players in slots 25-28, which doesn't exactly make sense math-wise, though presumably 3 of them will be moved to slots 21-24 where only one player is currently listed. The seven players in slots 25-28 are Deandre Kerr, Luca Petrasso, Ralph Priso, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Ifunanyachi Achara, Noble Okello, and Jayden Nelson.

If any of these players were to be loaned out or moved, Luke Singh could presumably be moved in to occupy one of these slots, which is an important consideration given Premier League interest in Marshall-Rutty that could see him move in the summer. If both Marshall-Rutty and Singh move, as a loan for Luke Singh look likely as well, look for another young player to be signed, perhaps full-back Kadin Chung currently on trial with TFC at training camp. Of all these players, only Achara and Chung aren't Homegrowns, again showing the advantage of Homegrown player depth on the TFC roster.

Supplemental roster slots 21-24 can be used in a few more ways, though there is also a higher required minimum salary. Slots 21-24 are for Homegrown players earning between $84,000 and $209,000 per year, or non-Homegrown players earning exactly the Senior minimum salary of $84,000 per year, or Generation Adidas players earning any amount over the $84,000 minimum who are still on their original Generation Adidas contract, or MLS SuperDraft draft picks earning any amount over the $84,000 minimum who are still on their first contract (this last point is unclear in the rules on the MLS Roster Rules website though).

The roster on the TFC website only lists a single player for slots 21-24: Ayo Akinola. I'm not exactly sure if Ayo is eligible for this roster designation; while he is a Homegrown player, he is certainly making more than $209,000 per year. Akinola is a U22 player, meaning his salary budget charge will be $200,000 despite making much more than that. However, the slots 21-24 rule is written using the term "salary" not "salary budget charge" on the website, though perhaps this is a loophole that isn't clearly articulated.

In addition to Akinola,any of the players listed in slots 25-30 who make at least the $84,000 Senior minimum could be moved to slots 21-24. Based on 2021's salaries, this includes Marshall-Rutty, Okello, Nelson, Shaffelburg, and maybe Ranjitsingh (made the Senior minimum last year as the MLS Pool Goalkeeper); new signings Kerr, Petrasso, and MacNaughton have unknown salaries, so they could potentially be eligible for the slot 21-24 designation as well, though I wouldn't expect so for Kerr and Petrasso as both are young players on their first contract. Perruzza, Priso, Singh, and Achara would only be eligible if they got a raise from last year, which is a possibility.

Where does that leave the Supplemental roster? I do see a Marshall-Rutty move as likely, though only in the summer. In addition, a loan is plausible, especially considering the number of forwards on the current roster, so perhaps Achara or Perruzza (though not both) could see a spell somewhere else this season. Some new young players (Kadin Chung?) could also be signed and make their way onto the Supplemental roster. But without any of that, and assuming Ayo's slot 21-24 loophole comes good, the Supplemental roster currently stands as follows:

Other Roster Considerations

While the above might have you thinking we've gone through all of the MLS Roster Rules, there are in fact quite a number more rules to consider. I can't cover them all in depth, but some are particularly relevant to TFC's current rebuild.

One important consideration is international players; Toronto cannot have more international players than number of International roster slots. A domestic player for a Canadian-based MLS club is any Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or any US citizen or permanent resident. Canadian teams have a slight advantage in MLS in this way, both US and Canadian domestic players count as domestic for TFC (and Montreal and Vancouver). Each team starts an MLS season with eight international roster slots, but Toronto just recently traded one of its slots away to the NY Red Bulls, leaving the club with seven remaining. Those slots are currently filled by Achara, Jimenez, Mavinga, Pozeulo, and Salcedo, with two slots open. Considering one slot must be left open for Insigne's arrival in the summer, Toronto only have room for one more international addition before having to make some room.

This is where many of the outstanding rumours hit a bit of a wall. Rumoured signings like Domenico Criscito and Mattia Destro would need to occupy an International roster slot if they were to come to Toronto. Less likely rumoured additions like Andrea Belotti and Dries Mertens would likewise need to occupy an International roster slot. Also, the (not so) secret dream of many a #TFCLive twitter-user is the return of Sebastian Giovinco in the summer transfer window after his half-season stint with Sampdoria in Italy's Serie A completes.

Signing one of these five players is straight-forward, that slot is currently available. Signing a second requires acquiring a slot on the trade market or moving one of the existing internationals; the only move that might make sense is a loan stint or transfer out for Achara. A 2020 first round pick out of the MLS SuperDraft, Achara impressed last year and Toronto picked up his contract option for 2022. Moving on from Achara probably doesn't make sense unless a dream signing becomes available, though a loan stint to get Achara some playing time might make some sense. With Insigne only arriving in the summer, a half-season loan for Achara could also be an option. Signing three new internationals becomes more difficult, as you'd either have to move one player and trade for one slot, or trade for two slots; both are theoretically possible, but you do also need to consider the International slots for the 2023 season, since many of the current internationals are signed to multi-year contracts.

Another consideration is how MLS handles player loans. A team can loan any number of players to their second team, i.e., Toronto's TFC II, but they can only free up one roster spot with such a loan. In order to free up the roster spot, the loan must be a season-long free loan (no compensation received), of a player 24 years old or younger, and of a player making the Senior minimum salary or less (no Homegrown player subsidy applies here). This would likely apply to Deandre Kerr, Jordan Perruzza, Luca Petrasso, Ralph Priso, Ifunanyachi Achara, and Luke Singh. In addition, MLS allows for one intraleague loan that can also free up a roster slot, provided it is also season-long and of a player 24 years old or younger; think Liam Fraser's loan with the Columbus Crew in the 2021 season.

MLS sides can also initiate a loan outside MLS without restriction and receive roster relief for any number of these loans if season-long, though finding an interested party for a season-long loan from February through October is a little difficult considering most of the world plays their soccer the other way around the calendar. TFC did manage such a loan last year, sending Rocco Romeo to multiple teams over the year, so it is still a possibility. Auro Jr.'s loan to Santos is one of these loans, so TFC has already freed up the one roster slot (and International roster slot) by moving Auro Jr.

Toronto is reportedly seeking a loan destination for centre-back Luke Singh since the loan with CPL side Pacific FC fell through. Had that deal gone through, Toronto would have freed up the roster slot while leaving the door open to free up two more with the above-described loan paths. Since it did fall through, look for TFC to find a loan destination for Luke Singh with another MLS side, or, failing that, back to TFC II or perhaps some other CPL side. That still does leave one easy loan path left for Toronto, so perhaps a loan stint for Achara with another MLS side or with TFC II is still possible this season. I would like to emphasize that a loan for Achara is pure speculation, speculation that I'm not even sure makes total sense, but only considered here because of what it enables International roster slot-wise.

Finally, Toronto is allowed to negotiate one buyout of a contract per year, according to the MLS rules. There are no surprises here, Toronto just bought-out club legend Jozy Altidore after a few disappointing and injury-prone seasons. In order to make sure TFC had this buyout available for Jozy, they traded Dom Dwyer and his unfavourable contract to Dallas FC in early January, where he was immediately bought-out with Dallas' lone season buyout. Jozy is on is way to the Revs, while Dwyer just recently popped up in the news as the latest addition for Atlanta United. There is some confusion regarding Jozy's buyout deal though, as the Revs announced in their signing of Altidore that Toronto would still be responsible for some of Jozy's salary. They also stated that they would extend Jozy's contract, though presumably, as a bought-out player, Jozy has no contract to extend.

We're all flying blind analyzing this language, as nothing resembling this situation appears in the MLS Roster Rules. Jozy's contract, as with all MLS players, is with the league rather than the team, so while Toronto negotiated a contract buy-out, that buyout does have to go through the league office for approval. It appears that the league shops bought-out players' contracts to other MLS teams before executing any buyout, to see if some other MLS team can get some use out of the existing contract. Usually this is done through waivers, where the player has no say on their destination, but because Jozy's contract had a no-trade clause, Jozy was able to find a team as a free-agent while negotiating his buyout with TFC. So Jozy is still on the same contract, with part of his salary being paid by the buyout deal from Toronto, and the rest being paid by the Revs who assume his player rights. This also gives the Revs the ability to offer Jozy a contract extension. The amounts TFC are paying Jozy do not count against the salary cap however, as they are still treated as buyout payments from the league's perspective.

Acquisition Mechanisms

MLS has some pretty complicated rules for mechanisms by which new players can be signed. First is the MLS SuperDraft, the method by which NCAA college seniors, players nominated to the Draft Eligible list by any MLS club, and Generation Adidas players, are assigned to an MLS club for their first MLS contract. Homegrown players do not need to proceed through the SuperDraft. Any player who completes, leaves, or foregoes NCAA college eligibility in the year prior to the MLS SuperDraft and is not selected must either proceed through waivers or wait one year before they can be signed through another method. Toronto selected goalkeeper Luka Gavran and forward Reshaun Walkes in this year's SuperDraft, though it's not clear if either will be signed to the main team (a TFC II contract is also an option).

Next, the Allocation process determines which teams have priority to sign players from the Allocation List, which includes select USMNT and US youth players but mainly former MLS players returning after being transferred out for a $500,000 or greater transfer fee. This is the process by which Giovinco would need to return by if re-joining the reds in the summer. TFC currently sit at 13th in the Allocation Order, so they would either need to trade up or hope 12 Allocation List players are taken between now and the summer for Giovinco to be a reasonable option. Between Toronto's Allocation List position, and the discussion above about International roster slots, I'd say Giovinco's return to the reds in the summer is looking pretty unlikely.

Other acquisition mechanisms include: the Re-Entry Draft, which happened in December and for which TFC declined to make a selection; Waivers, which may come into play if another MLS side cut a decent player still under contract (TFC is 2nd on the preseason Waiver order, though that order changes as games begin to be played); Free-Agency, a process for which no details are published in the MLS Roster Rules except for the "In accordance with the MLS CBA" description; and the Discovery process, the method by which all other non-Homegrown players are signed, a first-come first-served process for reserving exclusive negotiation rights to a particular player. Any young non-Homegrown player Toronto is looking to sign is likely to be signed through this Discovery Process method, so I imagine Kadin Chung and other TFC training trialists are on TFC's Discovery List. Homegrown players (i.e., TFC II players) can be signed by TFC without going through any acquisition mechanism.

Current State of the Senior Roster

Considering all of the above, where does that leave the TFC Senior roster? For the sake of the discussion here we'll assume Kemar Lawrence and Luke Singh have made their exit from the team as rumoured (though only a loan in the case of Singh). In addition, we'll assume that the Supplemental Roster stays as is and Ayo's roster loophole is allowed to stand (though I still don't quite believe it). Note, if the Supplemental roster does change, it will likely be through the moving of a Senior minimum salary player to the Senior roster, so it doesn't change the analysis much. Here's the state of things with those assumptions:

One thing that's immediately clear from the above is that the Senior roster is pretty sparse. With only 12 players signed, another 8 additions need to be made to fill out the team. In terms of cap space, TFC is expectedly over the cap (that's what allocation money is for), but the total estimated amounts of allocation funds that need to be used is only about $2.5M, or $3.2M if Salcedo is bought down when Insigne arrives to allow Toronto to bring in another DP (though the true cost would closer to $3.8M, since the DP would incur a salary budget charge of $612,500 that would also need to be paid for). Note, the amounts above don't include wage inflation from the player's 2021 salaries, so the actual amount might be slightly greater. Considering that my estimated amount of allocation funds (GAM and TAM combined) is about $6.7M, there certainly is room for such a DP move if the front office can find the right fit.

Next Steps in the Rebuild

With room for more players, where exactly do those additions need to be made? We can look at specific positions to see where depth has been lost with departing players and how much of that depth has already been recovered with new additions. Again, we will assume Kemar Lawrence and Luke Singh are not available for the 2022 season. Note, assigning players statically to just one position isn't always an accurate way to determine roster depth, since some players could presumably transition to other parts of the field, but it's a good approximation.

Starting at the back, it's clear that TFC are okay at Goalkeeper, with three capable net-minders available on the roster. I might have liked for Toronto to choose one of Bono or Westberg and move on from the other, if only for the huge cap hit of having two quality keepers, though perhaps there wasn't an easy way to exit those contracts. There were also rumours that Toronto might be interested in bringing in Canadian International standout keeper Milan Borjan from his current Serbian club, but reportedly Red Star Belgrade don't want to let him go. That would be a dream signing in the net for a Canadian club, though it would complicate the keeper situation further unless accompanied by a corresponding move to move one or more of the other guys out. Maybe 2023 will instead be the year we see Toronto clear up its Goalkeeper situation.

The back-line has changed quite substantially from where it was at the end of the 2021 season. At centre-back, we saw four exits, with one more (Luke Singh) expected to depart on loan. With three new signings, that brings the 2022 CB stable to one net player short (we're not counting Julian Dunn, since he was out on loan last season). We could maybe see one more addition here, or two if Bob Bradley elects to go with three at the back, though playing with four CBs on the roster is certainty a possibility. At full-back, the situation is a lot less stable; all four of last year's FBs have departed, with only one new young signing on the left side, Luca Petrasso. Bob Bradley has made an effort to convert Jacob Shaffelburg (LW) and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty (RW) to modern attacking wing-backs, but even so, some more depth is probably needed. In addition, having two new-to-the-role attacking minded FBs puts a lot of pressure on the team's CBs, but maybe playing with three at the back is an option. Keeping all of that in mind, I'd like to see some veteran FBs signed, at least one for each side of the field.

The midfield isn't getting as much attention in the media, but it is the only place on the field where Toronto has seen multiple departures with no new additions. Toronto should be okay at the number 6 holding midfielder role, assuming Michael Bradley can still play at a high level. However, Toronto has lost some valuable depth in the centre of the field with both DeLeon and Delgado gone from the team, and a little higher up the field with Endoh departing. Some of this can be alleviated by giving the young guys Okello and Priso a more prominent role, and perhaps bringing Jesus Jimenez into the depth chart at the number 10 position behind Pozuelo. A lot of the midfielder need is also dictated by the Bob Bradley's intended tactics for the team, which might alleviate some of the need for depth at the number 10 role for example. In any case, I think Toronto likely need to make one or two veteran additions in the middle of the field as well.

The roster up front for Toronto is probably a little better off. The team is down two net players at forward, with many of the big signings being made in that role this offseason. If Shaffelburg and JMR do move to fullback, as seems to be Bob Bradley's intention, that does thin out the pack a little bit, but Toronto was forward heavy to begin with so I'm not necessarily too worried about the loss of those players to other positions on the field. There might be some issues with depth on the left wing with Shaffelburg moving, at least until Insigne arrives in the summer, but moving to a two striker system is always a possibility with the number of forwards on the roster. I do expect the formation to eventually include wingers though, as you have to imagine the team wants to employ Insgine in his best position. The right side of the field is often touted by fans as an opportunity for another big signing, to balance out the attack, but I'd label that kind of addition as a nice to have; by all accounts Kerr is a talented winger in pre-season right now, and I liked what I saw out of Achara playing on the right-side last year, so it's possible the kids can hold it down on the right wing all on their own.

In the final accounting, I think Toronto needs to look to add 0-2 centre-backs, 2-3 full-backs, 1-2 midfielders, and 0-2 Wingers.

Where Things Stand

After all of this analysis, the distinct feeling I get is that TFC's roster is not really in the typical MLS-ready shape you'd expect with one week to season kick off. More signings need to be made. All this allocation money has been accumulated but has yet to be spent. And even the rumoured moves seem to be lagging; Auro Jr. is now officially out, but what is the progress/update on the Kemar Lawrence and Luke Singh situations? The one bright spot is the Supplemental roster, which may be one of the best in the league. I'll be excited to see how this season turns out, and what the rest of the rebuild looks like, but here's to hoping that rebuild makes more progress very soon.