With "natural turnover" coming for Toronto FC, Greg Vanney says wide areas, final ball need improvement

TORONTO – The cries for consistency have echoed loud and clear among Toronto FC’s ranks. Keep the core has been the mantra in recent weeks, and it seems that the club will be doing just that this offseason.

While rumors of Jermain Defoe's exit after just one season persist, head coach Greg Vanney has a full team of players to think about as he leads TFC toward the 2015 season.

“I don’t think there’s a ton of turnover that’s needed,” Vanney said, during his postseason news conference earlier this month. “I think we have a good core group to build from. There’s some positional things, just because the way I would like to play the game is different from the way the team was originally set up to play the game, so because of that there will be some natural turnover.”

Any additional personnel will need to fit into Vanney’s preferred formation, one he described as a system that includes a striker up top that stretches defenders coupled with another attacking player in the pocket. He said he wanted his wingers to both cut inwards to “create numerical advantages,” but also wanted them to be willing to take people on out on the wings, supported by attacking fullbacks, too.

Since taking over at the end of August, Vanney has focused on the team’s style of play, calling for more energy and aggression from his players. He stressed that, moving forward, he wants his side to create and execute on chances “more by design” so that the team can create attacking movements with intent, rather than through what he described as “pure coincidence or accidents.”

But when asked about his wide players, Vanney didn’t hold back. Toronto FC’s current crop of natural wingers Dominic Oduro, Jackson and Dan Lovitz contributed a total of six goals and eight assists, something Vanney said must be addressed in 2015.

“I’m not content with where we are with that,” Vanney said of his team’s wide play. “I’ve stated that to them, that’s not a secret. Some of them, I think, approach certain situations technically wrong. For example, if I was a golfer, they’re choosing the wrong club for the wrong shot and that is a technical thing that they need to improve on over the course of this offseason, especially how we cross the ball.

“It’s our thoughts of when we cross the ball,” he continued. “Too many of our guys on the outside, they get to the final pass and they’re trying to hit somebody on the head or on the foot. Crossing the ball is about putting the ball in a dangerous spot and allowing guys to attack that space and where you put the ball.”

The beautiful game isn’t just played on whiteboards and computer simulations, though. Vanney also stressed the importance of getting the right chemistry and mentality in the locker room for next season.

“If we act like a team that isn’t successful, then we will fulfil that and we will be a team that is unsuccessful," he said. "We need to act and build a culture of success and expectation on a daily basis and live up to those standards every day.”