It started off so well. Thousands of pissed up TFC fans invading Columbus for the season's opening game and setting a league record for away support. The Crew won that day (2-0 supposedly, but I can't confirm anything after halftime, the "Crew Lager" being deadly stuff), but we were all ready for the season of glory that awaited
Despite finishing 10 points better off than the inaugural campaign (not to mention ahead of David Beckham's Galaxy), Toronto FC again missed the playoffs in their sophomore year. A promising start to the season gave way to a series of underwhelming results throughout the summer, only to be followed by a Leafs style late season run to get everyone's hopes up. Given the support, cap room, draft picks and deep pockets that the MLSE owned TFC has heading into the off season, a playoff game in Toronto next October is a must. Work is needed all over the pitch, so in part one, we look at goal keeping and defence.
In Greg Sutton, TFC has a solid MLS keeper; he's had one or two shocking errors, but he's kept us in more games than he's lost, despite the fact that the team sometimes seems to be running the "Gongshow Defence" style favoured by under 10 house league teams every where. Backup keeper and Wake Forest product Brian Edwards looks promising enough to hang onto for now.
One of the major priorities in the off season is to acquire a top quality center back to partner Tyrone Marshall in the middle of the defense. Too often there has been a lack of communication at the back, and TFC's dubious distinction of conceding the most goals after 80 minutes in MLS shows a tendency to switch off. Marshall is OK on his own, but an experienced, vocal John Terry style CB would eliminate the pant-shitting moments that came whenever Marco Velez was left one on one with an attacker.
In Jim Brennan, Todd Dunivant and Marvellous Marvell Wynne, TFC doesn't have to envy any other set of full backs in the league. This is of course contingent upon Wynne not getting picked up by a European team in the January transfer window. Hopefully his poor positional sense and a concussion picked up in the season's penultimate game will outweigh his league leading pace and new found goal scoring ability in the eyes of the Euro scouts.
Overall 2008 Grade - Defence: C-
Top Priorities for the Off Season: Signing a top quality, experienced and vocal Center Back and hanging on to Wynne for another season.