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Figuring out Toronto FC’s depth chart going into the 2017 season

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There are still a few moving parts as preseason ends, so here’s a recap of what we know.

MLS: Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

On the eve of Toronto FC’s season opener at Real Salt Lake, there are still a few things we don’t know about how the Reds’ complete MLS roster is going to look in 2017.

To recap what’s happened over the course of preseason and what (internal) signings could still be made, here’s a dive into the senior depth chart as it stands. For ease, we’re assuming a 3-5-2 formation will be the norm.

Goalkeepers

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What we know: Clint Irwin, who has signed a new contract, will go into the season as the starter. He will be challenged by Alex Bono.

What we don’t know: It’s not clear who the third choice, and starter for TFC II, will be - currently, Angelo Cavalluzzo is the only goalkeeper signed to the reserve club. Draft pick Robert Moewes appears to be the frontrunner but Mark Pais, last of Saint Louis FC, also trialled during preseason.

What’s likely: Moewes did a bit of travelling back and forth between training camp and school as he completes his graduate studies, and given the lack of urgency to find another goalkeeper beyond bringing Pais in as a warm body I would guess he will join Cavalluzzo on TFC II.

Centre-backs

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What we know: Drew Moor is the undisputed first-choice defender, and Nick Hagglund and Eriq Zavaleta are likely to continue with him on day one. Chris Mavinga has signed with a view to being the left-sided centre-back, however, meaning that if he settles in as hoped Hagglund and Zavaleta could be in a battle on the right in the longer term. Brandon Aubrey will also be on the MLS roster as a first-round pick but is likely to be loaned down to the USL.

What we don’t know: It was a surprise to see Clement Simonin released from his trial after being given a prominent role in preseason, so Toronto could yet make a move for another centre-back. Finnish defender Johan Brunell remains with the squad on trial.

What’s likely: The only question mark is whether or not they add another depth centre-back, whether it be Brunell or someone else. Either way, that player is likely to spend time with TFC II and be called up when needed.

Wing-backs

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What we know: Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow will be the starters once again, and when fit Ashtone Morgan will be Morrow’s backup.

What we don’t know: It’s not entirely clear who the reserves for either are as of now, because Morgan is injured again. Raheem Edwards has done well on the left in preseason, and now he is signed could fill in if an emergency strikes. No extra right-back has been signed yet following Mark Bloom’s departure, however, with draft pick Oyvind Alseth still training with the first team.

What’s likely: Toronto use Tsubasa Endoh and Marky Delgado as makeshift right-sided options while keeping an eye out for a more permanent solution in the transfer market. Alseth probably goes to TFC II eventually.

Defensive midfield

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What we know: Michael Bradley is the first-choice holding midfielder and Benoit Cheyrou will fill in when needed.

What we don’t know: Not much, really. Maybe there is some doubt as to whether Cheyrou is good to go on a regular basis when Bradley leaves for the Gold Cup, but he should manage.

What’s likely: No major change here from last season.

Central midfield

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What we know: Jonathan Osorio and Jay Chapman are back in the more attacking, playmaking role and Armando Cooper and Marky Delgado will be the No. 8 options, shuttling back and forth and chipping in with a bit of everything. Osorio’s starting berth could come under threat, however, from new signing Victor Vazquez and Sergio Camargo is also on the fringes, though likely to spend some time with TFC II.

What we don’t know: This area of the team looks strong and settled. It will be disappointing if Chapman is shoved down the pecking order as a result of Vazquez’s arrival, but few would argue the Spaniard’s signing didn’t make sense.

What’s likely: We see a few four-man midfield looks aimed at accommodating all the talent in this area.

Strikers

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What we know: Toronto FC look fully loaded up front with Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, Tosaint Ricketts, Jordan Hamilton, Mo Babouli and now Ben Spencer all signed to the first team.

What we don’t know: It’s hard to see Babouli getting much of a look, especially now he has the added competition of Spencer making the cut. He may be at risk this year.

What’s likely: Ricketts will be the first sub behind Giovinco and Altidore again and the other three will battle it out for opportunities.


Toronto currently - by my list - have 26 of their 30 roster spots filled, and there is room for them to sign Brunell and Alseth should they wish to do so. They have only used 18 of the 20 senior roster slots permitted but Tim Bezbatchenko has previously hinted that may be by design, leaving two supplemental and reserve places open.

The signed roster currently looks like this:

Goalkeepers: Irwin, Bono.

Defenders: Beitashour, Moor, Morrow, Hagglund, Zavaleta, Aubrey, Mavinga, Morgan.

Midfielders: Bradley, Cooper, Delgado, Endoh, Osorio, Vazquez, Chapman, Cheyrou, Camargo, Edwards.

Forwards: Giovinco, Altidore, Hamilton, Babouli, Spencer, Ricketts.