After a disappointing end to their season with an upset loss to Nashville SC in Round One of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, Toronto FC's focus shifts to the offseason much sooner than they expected.
At the top of the list that needs sorting: Pablo Piatti's future.
Piatti joined Toronto last winter as a Designated Player and a source told MLSsoccer.com that it was a one-year guaranteed contract. There is as yet no confirmation of whether there were team options as part of the deal. Either way, the club need to decide if Piatti will return next year whether it's in a contract option or a new deal.
The 31-year-old appeared in 17 (16 starts) of Toronto's 23 regular season matches, adding four goals and four assists. He had a few niggling injuries, including a hamstring injury that kept him out of the club's first two games back in March then a calf injury that ruled him out of the club's final four games, before he returned for their playoff loss against Nashville.
Piatti being able to make 16 starts in a condensed season is good news considering the injury questions around him when he was signed from La Liga club Espanyol. The. Argentine had been playing in Spain since 2008, where he was a productive La Liga player. Piatti had 48 goals and 42 assists in more than 300 appearances, but the end of his time in the country was marred by injury concerns, including a torn ACL in 2019.
Another vote of confidence for Piatti in Toronto is his partnership with Landon Donovan MLS MVP finalist Alejandro Pozuelo. The two attackers shared a near kinetic understanding, so it should come as no surprise that the Spaniard spoke publicly of his desire for Piatti to stay with Toronto.
“I hope [Pablo] can stay here," Pozuelo said Friday. "He does a lot for the team, not only inside but outside. His personality. He tried to learn English, to speak with everybody. He’s a great professional. If he stays here, the team will be better. I hope he can stay with Toronto.”
If the club opt to move on, or can agree to a lesser deal, Toronto will have another vacant Designated Player spot. Jozy Altidore and Pozuelo occupy the other two.
Elsewhere, both goalkeeper Quentin Westberg and center back Omar Gonzalez confirmed they are under contract for next season. Gonzalez's center back partner Chris Mavinga signed a contract extension just ahead of the season, while Michael Bradley also signed a new contract last winter.
With much of the core returning, Toronto will expect to contend for trophies once again in 2021.