After reaching MLS Cup final in 2019, Toronto FC will look to go one better, despite losing their captain to injury. That said, the loss of the skipper has many a sports bookmaker lengthening their odds on the Canadian’s winning the 2020 tournament.
After a slow start, Toronto turned its season around with a powerful finish. A coup for the Reds last season was the addition of centre-back Omar Gonzalez. The former U.S. men’s national team participant reinforced the backline and allowed the Reds to push from the basement of their Eastern Conference and into the playoffs. Toronto FC played its way into the final but lost to the Seattle Sounders. At that time, there was a scare that Michael Bradley wouldn’t be returning following the final match of 2019. However, after re-signing with the club, his ankle injury came to light.
The team originally waited to try and prevent surgery, but the midfielder went through with the procedure in January, with TFC announcing Bradley would be out for a four-month period. Toronto trainer Greg Vanney will turn his attention to Liam Fraser as the captain’s replacement. The 22-year-old earned his first caps for the Canadian national team in 2019 in midfield. Fraser played in Canada’s 2-0 win over the U.S. men’s national team, substituting in for the injured Mark-Anthony Kaye. Alongside Jonathan Osorio, Fraser will wish to add some flair to the TFC midfield at the start of the campaign.
TFC begin their 2020 campaign on the road against San Jose Earthquakes. Altidore, Pozuelo and TFC will start their year in the Bay Area, taking on the San Jose Earthquakes. The attacking corps will be the first to check the Quakes’ new and enhanced line. Head coach Matias Almeyda is reunited with centre-back Oswaldo Alanis, with whom he worked at Chivas Guadalajara. In addition to Bradley and Piatti, who are ruled out, Nick DeLeon is questionable for Saturday due to back tightness. The latest soccer odds reflect these absences.
Other important games –
April 18 vs LA Galaxy: Omar Gonzalez will play with his former MLS club in a league game for the very first time when the LA Galaxy take a trip to BMO Field in mid-April. This may also be Toronto’s first chance to see the Galaxy’s newest celebrity player Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
June 13 vs Montreal Impact: BMO Field will host the first Canadian Classique of 2020. The Montreal Impact — that are recovering from the loss of Ignacio Piatti — will travel to Ontario to take on TFC, who will have a Piatti of the very own, in Pablo Piatti.
The largest signing of the offseason for Toronto was undoubtedly Pablo Piatti. The Argentine, however, carries the baggage of being an injury-prone player. Piatti won’t be available for the season opener of TFC, but Vanney remained confident. “His overall fitness level is great,” Vanney stated. “So we just want to make sure that in terms of stability, balance, mobility, all those kinds of things, that he’s as far along and as prepared as we can get him. We want him to be safe, want to make sure he plays as much as he can this season and so we’re trying to be diligent about that.”
But, Piatti has yet to step on the field for the Reds. The Argentine didn’t feature in a pre-season game for his new club. Vanney explained that the number of returning veterans may palliate for the loss of other players. “It’s helpful when you have a group that a lot of them came back from last year or the previous years. Our starting page is probably a little bit further than in the past,” Vanney mentioned earlier in the preseason.
Toronto ended its preseason in a rocky manner, with losses to the LA Galaxy, LAFC and Chicago Fire FC. TFC played out a 1-1 draw to the Colorado Rapids to finish their training camp. The Reds will be able to stay home for their second and third games of the season after spending a fantastic chunk of time in California for their season opener and the preseason.