2011 Club by Club
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
Sporting Kansas City
It was another rebuilding season for Toronto FC with a familiar result: no playoffs for the fifth year in a row. Head coach and technical director Aron Winter, director of player development Paul Mariner and assistant coach Bob de Klerk took over in early January and had to do the rebuilding on the fly, however they began to see light at the end of the tunnel as they only lost once in their last 10 games.
The controversy around star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario’s salary dispute with the club ended on Apr. 1 with his trade to the New York Red Bulls. But the real rebuilding started in July when the roster was overhauled in a flurry of trades and signings to provide players better suited to Winter’s 4-3-3 formation.
An improved team saved something from the season by winning a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals that will match them against the LA Galaxy in March, after overcoming FC Dallas in an inspired 3-0 win in Texas.
Playing superbly, the Reds victory over FC Dallas on Oct. 18, could prove to be a major turning point in franchise history. Dallas had won the three previous meetings 1-0 during the season, two in league play, but Joao Plata scored twice in the second half at Pizza Hut Park to add to a first-half goal by Danny Koevermans, one of the key midseason additions.
The win over Dallas had to be by far the highest point of the season, however the early season loss to Philadelphia was crushing. A 6-2 loss to the Union on May 28 was the first time TFC had conceded six goals in a game and was their worst home defeat. By the 11th minute, they were two down and the score was 3-0 at the half. The Reds scored twice early in the second half to make it interesting, only to fall back again. It was obvious changes were needed.
Thanks to his Dutch connections, Winter was able to bring in Dutch forward Javier Martina, who scored two goals in the 2-0 victory over Portland on Mar. 26 in the home opener at BMO Field. His second will stand out as one of the best in Toronto FC's history. In the 70th minute, ‘keeper Stefan Frei sent a dropkick his way. Martina attacked it on the first bounce and buried a sublime volley past an outstretched Jake Gleeson.
Standout goalie Stefan Frei was again a monumental force in net. His best moment of the season came when he saved a game TFC tried to throw away, stopping superbly from Chicago's Daniel Paladini on a breakaway in a 2-2 draw on May 14. Paladini was through on goal after the Fire had erased a 2-0 disadvantage, but Frei miraculously raised his left hand to the ball, robbing the Chicago player and preserving the point.
Midfielder Torsten Frings, one of the two Designated Players (with Koevermans) added in July, made every player around him better with his stabilizing influence. The former German international also was used as a sweeper playing with the two central defenders when TFC went to a 3-4-3 against certain opponents. His impact on the side was immediate, and it was no coincidence that Toronto became a more solid defensive unit since his arrival. Not only was Frings a huge presence on the pitch, his influence on the younger players was profound. That was another reason the 34-year-old was signed.
Danny Koevermans was a constant thorn in the backside of opposition defenders after his move from PSV. The big Dutchman scored 10 times in just 17 appearances, and became a firm fans favorite at BMO Field. Alongside Frings, Plata, Eckersley and Ryan Johnson, he marked a new era of hope for TFC with his predatory instincts.