As Toronto FC prepare for the start of the 2022 regular season, we consider four questions where the answers will help determine how their campaign plays out.
Toronto FC fans are quite rightly excited about what lies ahead for their club, following an offseason where they dominated the football headlines in North America. In line with the organization’s commitment to being the best, the roster was revamped and Bob Bradley has been brought in to work his magic.
Bradley’s history of success bodes well and yet he still has something to prove, starting this weekend. The Reds will open their 2022 MLS campaign on Saturday, versus FC Dallas in Texas.
The time for talking and making predictions is over … nearly. We count down four questions which need answering and will go some way towards determining how this season plays out for TFC:
4) How reliable will the defence be?
It’s an understatement to say the Toronto FC defence was a disaster last year. They set an unwanted club record by allowing 66 goals during the regular season, which also contributed to a franchise-worst goal difference of -27.
As a result, TFC made wholesale changes to the back line during the off-season. Richie Laryea moved to Nottingham Forest and Auro Jr. was loaned to Santos FC, while Omar Gonzalez and Eriq Zavaleta had their respective contract options declined.
In addition, Justin Morrow retired, but it wasn’t all one-way traffic. Among others, the Reds signed Shane O’Neill, Lukas MacNaughton and Kadin Chung, as well as obtaining Carlos Salcedo as part of a swap deal which saw Yeferson Soteldo move to Tigres UANL.
Of course, it’s one thing revamping the back line and bringing in talented and experienced players, but how quickly will they gel and how well will they play together? It should be fully expected they won’t be as bad as last season, but how much they improve will be crucial to TFC’s plans to once again contend for honours.
It will also be intriguing to see what formation Toronto FC uses. Given the personnel at their disposal, you could be just as likely to see three at the back as well as the more conventional four-man defence.
The beauty is that both formations are justified and feasible for this club, whether it be from match-to-match or as a part of any in-game tactical changes. One player to keep an eye on in particular is Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, a young and promising winger who lined up at right fullback during pre-season.
Prediction: The defence will improve and be in the 40s-range for goals allowed.