2007 was Toronto FC’s first year in existence. While it wasn’t always smooth (setting the record for most consecutive goal-less minutes), they did manage a respectable six victories in their first season. A lack of squad depth and an abundance of injuries hurt the team in ways they would not recover from, ending up fifteen points adrift of the playoff spots.
After an unsuccessful start to the season, losing four matches in a row, they beat then one-loss Chicago Fire and eventual champion Houston Dynamo. Things seemed to be looking up, but they went on to win only one of their last sixteen league matches — failing to score in 824 straight minutes — leaving them in last place.
The first season of Toronto’s existence really did belong to the fans. After their last home match, a 2-2 draw with finalists New England (coming back from 2-0 down to equalize in stoppage time), the players did a lap of honor around the pitch, applauded by a sell-out crowd. All of Toronto’s home matches sold out. There were 14,000 season tickets available, and they were all sold. For the 2008 season, 16,000 season tickets were made available, and they were all sold by the middle of November.
If anything, there have been only negative changes. Despite having a handful of players on trial, the only acquisitions coach John Carver made in the off season were through the SuperDraft. Other than that, Toronto lost their most often used goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos, as his loan ended and he returned to Tromsø IL in Norway.
MLS Rookie of the Year Maurice Edu will need to continue his success story if Toronto are to have any success. However, if things don’t improve north of the border, look for Edu to hand in a transfer request this summer.
Keys to success
Goals. Goals. Goals. If Toronto don’t find a consistent goalscorer, they will end up drifting towards the bottom of the table again. They scored only 25 goals all of last season, and they won by more than one goal only twice. They failed to score in half of their league matches.
They also need to dip into the transfer market and find some experienced, talented players. This is what the David Beckham rule is supposed to be for, but Toronto don’t currently have anybody signed under this rule.
Back to the 2008 MLS Season Preview.