TEAM: Toronto F.C.
COACH: Aron Winter
LAST SEASON: 6 – 13 – 15 = 33 points, 8th Place Eastern, 16th Overall
TWITTER HASHTAG: #TFC
Could the overhaul be nearing completion in Toronto?
2011 must have been a frustrating season for supporters of the Reds. January saw the appointment of former Ajax midfielder Aron Winter as Manager. Certainly some changes would come about, especially from a guy versed in the culture of Total Football. The season barely got underway before their talisman, hometown hero Dwayne De Rosario, was traded off to the Red Bulls. For a while, it wasn’t clear if the team was moving in the right direction.
Yet in the summer the club was able to entice two experienced footballers from Europe to enter the fray. German destroyer Torsten Frings and former PSV striker Danny Koevermans came in and gave some legitimacy to Coach Winter’s philosophy. Add to that the blossoming of Joao Plata, an Ecuadorian forward who gelled in the system, as well as fellow Dutchman Nick Soolsma, and Toronto finished respectably with a 3-2-6 record in their last 11 league matches. And that wasn’t counting the Group Stages of the CONCACAF Champions League, where they escaped their group and made the Quarterfinals.
So Toronto looks to have a shot of moving up in the East. They even get a chance to make a statement tomorrow evening, when they face MLS Champions L.A. Galaxy in the first leg of the Quarterfinals being held at the Rogers Centre. Look for Winter and company to go all out in front of a larger audience to prove that they is ready to bring football glory to the shores of Lake Ontario.
COACHING STAFF AND FRONT OFFICE: Winter is in his second season, and prefers to have his team playing a fluid, attacking style of football on the pitch at BMO Field. With that said, I attended the late season fixture between Philadelphia and Toronto, and it was clear that Winter became more pragmatic through the struggles of last season. “Parking the bus” certainly is not Winter’s preferred style of soccer, but in this league it is difficult to win without some form of defensive posture when the lead is seized. In regards to the Front Office, Maple Leaf Sports owns the Reds, and have certainly declared their intentions. Over the winter, they also brought on board Thomas Rongen as technical director, another man well-versed in Dutch methodology.
KEY PLAYERS GAINED: Most of Toronto’s key additions happened in the midst of the 2011 season, but a few players were brought in during the offseason. Miguel Aceval was signed from Universidad de Concepcion in Colombia, and has received a lot of playing time in the preseason. He should earn a starting job in central defense. Also in the mix for the defense could be Geovanny Caicedo, who played in Ecuador last season. The Reds also brought a young Bermudan winger, Reggie Lambe, who spent time with Ipswich Town and Bristol Rovers over the last couple of years. Toronto also picked up some depth at outside back with Jeremy Hall, in a trade with Dallas. Toronto sent a 2013 2nd Round Pick in return.