3) Bono vs. Westberg
Another important key to the defence’s recovery in 2022, will be the goalkeeping position. More specifically, who will get the nod in net?
Starting with Quentin Westberg, he was originally signed ahead of the 2019 season to be the backup goalie, but ended up winning the starting role. He went on to play a key role in helping TFC advance to their third MLS Cup in four years.
Even though the Reds would ultimately fall short versus the Seattle Sounders, Westberg was rewarded with a two-year contract extension with a club option for a third. However, since then he has seen a decline in appearances.
While injuries didn’t help, the 35-year-old was limited to 10 regular season games last year, as he suffered a loss of form and confidence. He’s looked decent enough during pre-season, but can he return to his previous level of consistency once the real action begins?
Turning to Alex Bono, he saw the majority of matches in goal last season, although he must have wished not to at certain points. Despite playing behind a porous defence though, his 24 regular season appearances (and 29 overall in all competitions) must have been a welcome reprieve after being limited to just nine starts during the previous two years combined.
Similar to Westberg, Bono went from being the backup goalie to taking over as the main starter, when he replaced Clint Irwin on a full-time basis in 2017. He would take it one step further however, in helping TFC win their inaugural MLS Cup (along with the Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship).
Again similar to Westberg though, the question is if the 27-year-old can improve his form this season and provide some stability for the defence in front of him. If both players can return to the level they are more than capable of, Toronto FC will have a nice problem on their hands.
As pre-season showed, the club is still unsure as to who their number one goalkeeper will be long-term (in 2022). As such, it will be on whoever gets the nod for the opening game, to take advantage.
Prediction: Bono will establish himself as the number one goalie.