Spotting how Toronto are responding to agony of last year


usa today 10118087.0

Toronto’s last two games have signaled the need for a disciplined midfielder to provide a helping hand to Victor Vazquez heading into the challenging stage of the season.

The decision to offload Will Johnson appears to have backfired, considering the fact that he would have been the man to add stability to the midfield in the 3-1-4-2 system.

At the moment, the Canadian side is having to rely too heavily on Marco Delgado, and in the event of an injury, there are hardly any competent replacements available to do the same job.

Indeed Delgado’s role in the team is far more essential than it appears at first glance; he is responsible for covering for Bradley and Beitashour when without the ball while his passing and deep-lying playmaking technique is of high importance.

The 22-year-old possesses an exceptional ability to read the game and judging by the way he maintains his positioning at all times, there could be a move to Europe for him in the future.

Another player gradually fitting into Greg Vanney’s system is Nick Hagglund who has held the back four together for much of the season thus far.

Hagglund has not always been easy on the eye and in fact, his lack of understanding of how to play in a three-man defensive system last season proved costly towards the end of the year.

The 24-year-old struggled terribly to feature as the left centre-back since he is clearly inclined to a role in the middle of the defense.

However, his improved form in his preferred position this season has brought the best out of him as a sweeper and relieved will be Justin Morrow who was initially forced to defend on the back foot, thanks to his teammate’s shortcomings.

Following that agonizing penalty shoot-out defeat to Seattle Sounders in last year’s MLS Cup final, Toronto could have been excused for only going through the motions this season as they lick their wounds.

But the magnificent disposition of their coaching staff would not have allowed them to take their foot off the gas simply because of the disappointment of last December.

Chicago, NYC FC and Orlando City are bound to put up a fight in the Eastern conference before Toronto can even set their sights on a play-offs berth.

The second half of the season could produce a few twists and turns and that is why Vanney can ill-afford to assume the missing piece of the puzzle has already been found.

But with the likes of Jozy Altidore and Raheem Edwards leading the frontline, there could be another opportunity to claim the cup for the first time in the club’s history.