5 reasons Toronto FC are MLS Cup pretenders

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Toronto FC may sit in third place in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference – tied with two other teams on 30 points – but the Reds have shown a history of up and down performances. As much as time changes, things seem to stay the same for the Reds. This season, the team has compiled 30 points from 21 matches, but fans and the team should be worried that the attacking problems from last year are still apparent. At least the defense has been sorted out in 2016.

This week, World Soccer Talk looks at 5 reasons Toronto FC is Major League Soccer Cup pretenders in 2016.

1. Reliance on Sebastian Giovinco

As a team, Toronto has only scored 28 goals this season. Of those 28, Giovinco has tallied 43% of the team’s scoring by netting 12 goals, according to WhoScored.com. The Reds are extremely reliant on the Italian to get them three points. In fact, Toronto has won just once in which Giovinco hasn’t scored or assisted a goal. That win came against LA Galaxy in June. The next closest scorers for the Reds are Jordan Hamilton and Justin Morrow, who have tallied three goals apiece. Giovinco has also added nine assists to Toronto’s 28 goals. In total, he has scored or had a hand in 21 of 28 goals.

2. Jozy Altidore has added nothing

Jozy Altidore is this season’s worst designated player, since Frank Lampard’s resurgence, and has arguably been on a downward spiral since joining English Premier League side Sunderland. The American international has played 10 times in 2016, scoring just once. Last season’s 13 goals was a decent return, helping the team into the playoffs for the first time. Although Toronto should have been better than sixth in the Eastern Conference. Altidore has been hurt for much of the season, and it was only against Columbus Crew over the weekend that he scored his first goal. It wasn’t anything special, a deflected goal that bounced in. If Toronto is to be more than pretenders – which it is not – the team will need Altidore to score more goals and take the pressure off of Giovinco. Toronto is paying Altidore $4.825 million a season as a designated player. That dollar figure, his production and injury problems in 2016 speak for themselves.

3. Counter-attacking team

Toronto does have something working in the team’s favor. The Reds lead MLS in counter-attacking goals with three. The team is excellent at going from defense to attack, but it is when the team is in that final third after building up the attack that needs to improve. Twenty-five goals have been tallied by Toronto when the team has not been on the counter this term. Those 25 goals are fewer than any team in the Eastern Conference’s top seven.

4. Western Conference is hurting TFC

Five of Toronto’s seven losses in 2016 have come from Western Conference teams. Sure, the Reds have done very well against the Eastern Conference, but with MLS’s two conference system, the club has struggled against the west. Yes, the team is only six points from first place, but at the same time, it is only four points from a non-playoff spot. The good news is, Toronto will only play twice more against Western Conference teams. The bad news is, the club must win these fixtures to prove it is one of the better teams in the league. Fortunately, Toronto will play four consecutive games at BMO Field in September.

5. Pray for Giovinco to stay injury-free

Since arriving at Toronto in 2015, Giovinco is yet to miss a match due to injury, according to TransferMarkt. Toronto fans should pray that he continues to stay injury-free, because if Giovinco goes down for an extended period of time, Toronto will struggle to pick up points.

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One Response

  1. Lawrence Dockery August 3, 2016

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