MLS Training Camp Preview: Toronto FC

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By JOHN BOSCHINI

2011 is a year of new beginnings for Toronto FC.

An 11th-placed finish in last year's campaign fell wildly short of both fan and ownership expectations, resulting in the ousting of head coach Preki and director of soccer Mo Johnston. Under the advisement of former German national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Toronto hired Ajax assistant Aron Winter head coach and brought Paul Mariner back to the MLS as director of player development following his unsucessful stint as manager of Plymouth Argyle.

With a revamped front office, Toronto played it safe in the off-season, sacrificing a first-round pick for Seattle Sounders midfielder Nathan Sturgis and strengthening its defensive and midfield core with picks in the later rounds of the Superdraft. Last season, Toronto conceded 41 goals while scoring only 31, mostly coming from 15-goal scorer Dwayne De Rosario. Seven more came from Chad Barrett but the former first-round pick was traded to the L.A. Galaxy in exchange for allocation money and Toronto has yet to fill the void with a big, off-season signing and will turn instead to its academy to provide an offensive spark

Despite all the changes that took place in Toronto this winter, the expectation for the 2011 season is the same as last year: Make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, no excuses.

Here's a closer look at Toronto's preseason:

Training Schedule: Jan. 27-Feb. 12 in Antayla, Turkey; Feb.12-Feb.21 in Toronto; Feb. 21-March 2 in Orlando, FL; March 2-March 13 in Charleston, SC.

Preseason Game Schedule: Feb. 10 vs. Dinamo Zagreb; Matches to be announced on Feb. 24, 26 in Toronto; 2011 Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, SC: March 5 vs. Chicago Fire; March 9 vs. Charleston Battery; March 12 vs. D.C. United.

Key Arrivals: MF – Nathan Sturgis, Joao Plata; D – Demitrius Omphroy, Matt Gold

Key Departures: GK – Jon Conway; F – Chad Barrett, O'Brian White, Fuad Ibrahim; D – Nick Garcia

What to Watch for: The first task for Toronto's newly-installed front office is to repair a contentious relationship between club and De Rosario. The lone 2010 All-Star for Toronto caused headlines towards the end of last season by voicing discontent with his current contract. This lead to an off-season trial with Scottish powerhouses Celtic FC of which Toronto had no knowledge. No move was ever made for De Rosario but the incident highlighted a detreriorating relationship. Also, a newcomer that could make an immediate impact is Ecuadorian Joao Plata, who fell to the third round despite impressing scouts at the MLS Combine.

Of Note: Captain De Rosario and defender Adrian Cann will have left Toronto's Turkey training camp to play for Canada against Greece on Feb. 9….Toronto also had six players called up to the Canadian U17 squad….The MLS announced that the domestic player rules would apply to both Canadian and American teams equally with both Canadians and Americans being considered domestic…The Carolina Challenge Cup will take place at the Blackbaud Stadium with Charleston Battery season ticket holders recieving complimentary tickets.

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14 Responses to MLS Training Camp Preview: Toronto FC

  1. TMK says:

    More like Fraud Ibrahim…talk about a bust

  2. JoeW says:

    Until TFC really upgrades the talent, I don’t seem them improving much. Yes, there is such a thing as addition through subtraction and yes, they’ve usually been a team where the sum of the parts was great than the sum of the whole. But this team is still missing too much on attack. And what if DeRo goes on a funk or gets hurt? I think TFC fans have to hope that there is at least one big addition to the attack yet to come (and frankly, I’d say 2-3 so the team isn’t dependent upon DeRo’s whims about if he’s being treated fairly or not).

  3. prism says:

    Where did Nick Garcia go?

  4. alex says:

    I think the story for this offseason is still an un-written one.

    Plenty of trialists in camp but no signings as of yet. But I have confidence the new front office staff get the big picture, unlike Mo Johnston (booo).

  5. rolando says:

    What happen to Junior Burgos? did they end up signing him or what?

  6. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    oh man, i think people are in for a surprise.

    The team is collecting some decent players (or at least trialing them) in Turkey right now. Although they are only friendlies we’ve tied Partizan Belgrade and beat Redstar Belgrade with even the coaches of the teams saying we looked decent. The few highlights we’ve been given have shown us a team/style of play we’ve never been privy to previous to this.

    We’ve chopped alot of fat off last years team creating alot of salary room but still maintaining a decent skeleton in mid and defense. The majority of the trialists have been much needed strikers, wingers and wingbacks with the team emphasizing movement with the ball and off the ball. Re: DeRo he maybe the top scorer on the team but he wont be the only one this season coming up. (DeRo hasnt scored once in the off season)

  7. I says:

    He is not with them in Turkey. I think that he was still sorting visa issues and should join the team back in Toronto.

  8. Myles B says:

    Who cares, as long as he never comes back I’m fine with it!!!!

  9. I says:

    TFC is looking to upgrade talent. However, this will be a completely different team than what’s been seen before. They are focusing on an entirely new system. So some players that were non factors last year (De Guzman), could find their groove again this year, under a structure that didn’t exist. Toronto was always much better on paper than they showed in the field, and hopefully Winter can make something of them.

    The core is still there, and you’re right, there is a major need for another 2 strikers.

  10. Myles B says:

    All the supplemental draft picks were left back in TO to train with the Academy kids.

  11. Myles B says:

    Totally agree, Winter has said in interviews we’ve got the Europeans trialists in Turkey and those on this side of the Atlantic will trial down in Florida with the team. We should see the first of the new signing by the end of this week when they’re done in Turkey.

  12. Damien says:

    TFC is finding value in the lesser known players, I can almost guarantee it.

    Too much of TFC’s past signings were euro players on their downward slide. Now we’re picking up players who are moving up.

  13. Herb says:

    Actually they are in Orlando on2/24 & 2/26 – Disney Classic with Dallas, Houston, and Orlando city (new minor league team)