TORONTO – After a storm comes a calm, and it seems that that’s exactly what’s happening at Toronto FC.
At this point one year ago, the Reds were about to embark on their extreme rebuilding process. Aron Winter hadn’t yet been appointed as head coach and technical director, and Paul Mariner wasn’t yet the team’s director of player development.
Throughout the season, players came and went, but a rash of midseason moves – including the acquisition of Designated Players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans – finally yielded a product moving in the direction Winter had been aiming for all season.
Although the club hopes the revolving door has stopped, it doesn’t mean TFC aren’t still working on building a team that will finally give the young club their first MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.
“As a football team, you never stand still,” Mariner told MLSsoccer.com recently. “We’re way further down the line with the academy, we’re further down the road with the scouting internationally and domestically.
“It’s not going to be chaotic where it was like a revolving door last year of players coming through the building. We want to be strategic with who we bring in and what type of player we bring in. … It’s a constant work in progress.”
With a new coach came a new system. Winter brought in a 4-3-3 that required adjustments for the players who remained with the team, and also in the type of player that was obtained.
Mariner looks at a shiny 3-0 CONCACAF Champions League win over FC Dallas as an example of how Toronto need to play, striking a balance of building from the back at the right time and getting the ball to the players up front at the right time.
“The best way for us to play was probably the Dallas game, where every single player played fantastically well,” Mariner said. “If we’re going to try to emulate that sort of performance, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
It is a good building point for when the Reds open their 2012 season on March 7, when they play the first leg of their CCL quarterfinal matchup against the LA Galaxy indoors at Rogers Centre.
“If we can cast ourselves forward to Jan. 1, 2012, we’re a little bit happier than in 2011,” Mariner said. “We know the squad, we know what we’ve got, we know what we need to work on, we know what we need.
“You’re always looking for the next great player, the next impact player to come in, all the pieces to every aspect of the football club. We’re working diligently to get that done, but we are a little bit farther along.”