Author: Charles Boehm | Cover illustration by Duane Tomaszewski
After falling agonizingly short of MLS Cup glory on home turf last year, Toronto FC are determined to get over the hump in 2017. The core of the roster remains, led by the Designated Player trio of Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, while international acquisitions Chris Mavinga and Victor Vazquez have arrived to bolster depth and consistency. With their tactical versatility and bounty of top-shelf talent, the Reds look like the team to beat in the East.
Key Offseason Transactions
|KEY PLAYERS IN:||KEY PLAYERS OUT:|
|Sergio Camargo (M)
Chris Mavinga (D)
Victor Vazquez (M)
|Josh Williams (D)
Will Johnson (M)
Mark Bloom (D)
Player to watch: Sebastian Giovinco
The Atomic Ant has been terrorizing defenders more or less continuously since he arrived in MLS in 2015. Giovinco won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award two years ago, arguably deserved to win it it again in '16 and will be a strong contender again this time around. His attacking talents make TFC go.
How they'll play
HEAD COACH - GREG VANNEY
Eager to field the Giovinco-Altidore strike pairing while maintaining both numbers and width in midfield, Vanney seized upon the 3-5-2 shape down the stretch last season and it worked like a charm on their run to MLS Cup. A relatively rare system in modern MLS, it allows TFC to both prioritize possession and selectively press high into the opponent's half, depending on the circumstances.
Project Starting XI
3-5-2, left to right: Clint Irwin (GK) — Eriq Zavaleta (D), Drew Moor (D), Nick Hagglund (D) — Justin Morrow (M), Michael Bradley (M), Victor Vazquez (M), Armando Cooper (M), Steven Beitashour (M) — Sebastian Giovinco (F), Jozy Altidore (F)
1st in Eastern Conference. Vanney and savvy general manager Tim Bezbatchenko have built the Reds roster to contend for titles: TFC have the stars, the role players and the depth pieces. Add in the painful, hard-won postseason experience gained last fall, and TFC appear to have everything needed to climb the summit again.