After a year in the wilderness, Toronto FC are gearing up for MLS Cup Playoff glory in 2022.
The Reds finished 13th in the Eastern Conference last season, parting ways with unsuccessful head coach hire Chris Armas, now an assistant at Manchester United, as early as July.
But how could Toronto FC look by the end of the off-season transfer window if they land all their big targets? Let’s take a look…
Quentin Westberg (GK): Despite TFC’s defensive woes in 2021, Quentin Westberg remains one of the better shot-stoppers in MLS and is still fully capable of holding down the No.1 jersey.
Auro Jr (RB): Richie Laryea has been sold to Nottingham Forest, opening up a consistent starting spot at right-back for Auro Jr. The defender provided four assists in 25 MLS appearances last season.
Carlos Salcedo (CB): Only FC Cincinnati (74) conceded more goals than Toronto (66) last season and for all the excitement around Insigne, their defense still needs serious work. 48-time Mexico international Carlos Salcedo has been linked with a move to BMO Field and would absolutely go a long way toward tightening things up for Bob Bradley. The main sticking point right now is reported interest from Wolves in the Premier League.
Domenico Criscito (CB): Still in need of further defensive surgery, Toronto have also been heavily linked with Domenico Criscito. At 35, the Italian is definitely in the twilight of his career, but is still a regular for Serie A side Genoa and would offer plenty of experience and solidity to TFC. His partnership with Salcedo could be transformative for the Reds.
Kemar Lawrence (LB): A great two-way full-back with a ton of MLS experience, Kemar Lawrence should have no problem holding down his spot at left-back for TFC. In fact, he and Auro may enjoy the extra freedom given to them by a potentially more solid center-back pairing and some industrious midfielders ahead of them.
Michael Bradley (CM): His legacy at international level may have been tarnished a little, and he’s certainly not the force he used to be. But veteran Michael Bradley can still act as an effective passing metronome and tempo-setter in the TFC midfield.
Jonathan Osorio (CM): With an eye for goal and a relentless work ethic, Jonathan Osorio always adds great value at both ends of the pitch. The 29-year-old recently had his one-year contract option triggered and should start most games for TFC in 2022.
Marky Delgado (CM): Similar to Osorio, Marky Delgado has been a good servant to Toronto. His defensive strength and versatility make him particularly important, screening the TFC center-backs and dropping in for full-backs as they push forward.
Alejandro Pozuelo (RW): With a solid midfield allowing full-backs to provide width, Bob Bradley might well elect to field Alejandro Pozuelo on the right of his forward line, but with the freedom to drift inside to create for TFC’s fearsome forward line. In fact, even if that avenue is cut off, the Spaniard is so two-footed that he could hug the touchline and deliver dangerous crosses into the box.
Andrea Belotti (ST): If TFC got all the aforementioned business done, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as the regular season enters the final stretch. But if they come good on the Andrea Belotti rumors? They might be damn near unstoppable! The 41-time Italy international’s contract with Torino is up this summer, meaning he could arrive at the same time as Insigne. And with a CV including a Euro 2020 winners’ medal and 100 Serie A goals so far, that would be no bad thing at all. In fact, it’d be dreamland for Toronto FC supporters.
Lorenzo Insigne (LW): As much as TFC need defensive reinforcements, we’re here for fun. And they won’t come much more fun or effective in MLS next season than Insigne. A European champion with Italy, captain at club level with Napoli, and just 30 years old, Major League Soccer rarely sees such a star arrive at such a prime time in his career. Can we just fast-forward to July already?!