Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Toronto FC optimistic after two poor seasons
by Ridge Mahoney, February 3rd, 2009 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] Toronto FC posted a much better record in 2008 than it did in its expansion season, and judging by the enthusiasm of coaches and players, another quantum leap is not out of the question.

No team gets into the playoffs just by doing the math, yet the 6-17-7 expansion doormat (25 points) posted a 9-13-8 mark (35 points) that left it four points short of a playoff spot. And that a team with 39 points, Red Bull New York, went all the way to MLS Cup.

TFC has retained its top players, added a few significant upgrades, and can again bank on boisterous backing from the colorful, rowdy BMO Field fanatics. Now, though, comes the greatest pressure this young franchise has yet to face: meeting expectations, i.e., reaching the postseason.

"We've got to kick on now," said Coach John Carver, referring to hitting the finish line in contention, not back in the pack. "We saw a huge improvement last season. We got close to it, got close to the playoffs, with a lot of obstacles thrown in our way, with guys going away for international games.

"I'm not going to say we're going to go out and win it, but the same kind of improvement I think is good enough to get us into the playoffs. And as New York showed, once you get there, anything can happen."

Former Houston attacker Dwayne De Rosario is the most obvious addition and doubtless he'll again torment opponents with his amazing dribbles, clever chips and dinks, and powerful shots. Yet also retained, either by contract renewal or new deals, are forwards Chad Barrett and Daniel Dichio, winger Rohan Ricketts, and midfielder Carl Robinson.

Right away, a midfield of Robinson, Ricketts, DeRosario and Amado Guevara can be ranked amongst the best in the league, assuming Carver can find a place for all of them and manage De Rosario's unique personality. A move to center back for Robinson is a possibility, especially if rookie midfielder Sam Cronin progresses rapidly. Ricketts and Guevara each had four goals and four assists, and should increase their production with DeRo on the prowl.

Barrett scored four goals in 13 games after arriving from Chicago in the Brian McBride deal, and Dichio re-upped after leading the team with five goals at age 34. A striker from South America is on director of soccer Mo Johnston's shopping list.

"Every year in preseason it becomes tougher and tougher," says Carver of a rugged, experienced player like Dichio tuning up for a long battle. "That's fact. But we look after him. Some players don't train every day, you just maintain them and get the best of them.

"I think it was a relatively easy decision for him to stay with us. He's been here, he knows what we're trying to do. Now we have him, so let's see what happens."

The back line may need shoring up; TFC conceded 43 goals last year, nine more than it scored. Still, left back and captain Jim Brennan, experienced center back Tyrone Marshall, and U.S. international right back Marvell Wynne is a pretty good group.

Cronin, forward O'Brian White, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei were taken in the SuperDraft first round. White won't be ready for full training until the end of March because of knee surgery; by then, TFC will have taken two preseason trips to Florida, played in the Carolina Challenge Cup, and opened the regular season to great fanfare. TFC also picked Mike Grella out of Duke, but he signed with English third division Leeds United.

"Toronto is a team that is on the up, they're improving and getting close to the playoffs," says Cronin, a NCAA Division I champion with Wake Forest in 2007. "To be with a club that's striving for the playoffs, I'm excited about that."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Video Pick: Five fabulous misses from the Bundesliga    
Schadenfreude from the folks Bundesliga, who compiled the "best" squandered chances to score easy goal from ...
DeAndre Yedlin loaned to Sunderland     
American defender DeAndre Yedlin, who last January left the Seattle Sounders for Tottenham Hotspur, has moved ...
What They're Saying: Carolina RailHawks fan Howie Perl    
"You'd think if corruption at all touched the RailHawks, that they'd be really good and buying ...
Reports: High-powered lawyer presses NASL demands    
Sports attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who represented MLS players in the 1996 lawsuit against MLS, its owners ...
MLS Power Rankings: Galaxy stays on its perch     
The LA Galaxy, winner of four games in a row and eight out of its previous ...
O'Neill moves on to last-place Belgian club    
The deal by which Shane O'Neill left MLS for Cypriot club Apollon Limassol a month ago ...
NASL: Pinho's hat trick gives him scoring lead    
Brazilian striker Stefano Pinho is the hottest player in the NASL. He followed up on two ...
USL: OKC's Koenig ties league scoring record    
OKC Energy FC moved into first place and became the first Western Conference team to earn ...
What They're Saying: Caleb Porter    
"We're coaches, and we're all ambassadors for MLS and want the game to grow, and I ...
Video Pick: BWP's volley leads MLS golazos    
A diving header by Kevin Doyle (Colorado), sharp-shooting from Diego Fagundez (New England) and Andrew Jacobson ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives