In wake of MLS Cup final loss, Toronto looks to find another goal-scorer

In wake of MLS Cup final loss, Toronto looks to find another goal-scorer

SEATTLE — Toronto FC returned home to a snowstorm Monday, another unwelcome dose of reality after a painful 3-1 MLS Cup final defeat in Seattle.

The playing season is over. The planning begins.

Team president Bill Manning offered up one major target in a question-and-answer with season ticket-holders Oct. 19 on the eve of Toronto’s opening playoff win over D.C. United.

After reeling off the club’s depth in midfield, Manning said there was more roster work to be done.

“We still do miss that second goal-scorer. And that’s something we’re going to address in this winter (transfer) window,” he said. “That’s why I say we’re not complete yet. I do think we still need one more window to further strengthen the team.”

Citing the “cruel” penalty shootout loss to the Montreal Impact in the Canadian Championship final in September, Manning then returned to the issue of finding another scoring option to complement striker Jozy Altidore.

“That’s one of the things we’re finding is when the big guy (Altidore) doesn’t score, we’re in trouble, right,” he said. “We had that combination with Sebastian (Giovinco) and Jozy in the past so that is something we’re going to look at this off-season.”

Altidore started the second leg of the Canadian Championship at BMO Field, a 1-0 win that led to a penalty shootout that did not go Toronto’s way.

With Altidore sidelined by injury during the first three games of the playoffs, TFC survived by pushing Alejandro Pozuelo farther up front. The Spanish playmaker roved around the field, pulling defenders out of their comfort zone while creating space for others.

Pozuelo enjoys playing the position because of the freedom it afford him, as opposed to being stationed on the wing.

It worked for three games but not in the final. Pozuelo cut a frustrated figure in Seattle, often dropping back deeper in a bid to get the ball. And he started taking on one, two three defenders with success — until another stopped him.

Coach Greg Vanney pointed to his team trying to do too much after going behind 1-0 in the 57th minute.

“Too much spinning around in midfield on the ball and not enough ball circulation.”

Altidore came on as a substitute Sunday, scoring a consolation goal in stoppage time.

Pozuelo is a special player. But playing him consistently up front is like asking Gordon Ramsay to cook and wait tables. It’s too much.

TFC did not have the guns needed in waiting. Patrick Mullins proved to be a hard-nosed reserve forward but not the alternative sniper needed.

With 57 goals during the regular season, Toronto ranked fifth in the league at 1.68 goals a game. It had an impressive 16 players score in the league, but Pozuelo (12), Altidore (11), Nick DeLeon (6) and Jonathan Osorio (five) accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the offence.

Scoring by committee is asking a lot when it comes to big games. Witness Sunday.

“By and large they executed many of their chances and that was the difference,” coach Greg Vanney said of Seattle.

Despite having just 35 per cent of the possession, Seattle managed six shots on target, one more than Toronto.

“It’s soccer. You work with what you have and unfortunately Jozy got injured just before the playoffs,” Vanney said. “But I thought the rest of the group really stepped up. We looked at different ways to game-plan to try to be dangerous over the course of this playoffs … It just meant we evolved. We became something different.”

GM Ali Curtis has more on his to-do list as he looks to put his own stamp on a roster he inherited in January — “with the house on fire” in Vanney’s words — given a spate of sudden roster changes.

With Pozuelo and Altidore locked up as designated players, the focus switches to captain Michael Bradley who currently is the third DP on an expiring contract.

One option is use targeted allocation money to re-sign Bradley, opening up a DP spot for a forward — preferably young but not so young to be a project.

Teams can use TAM to convert a designated player to a non-DP. The maximum current salary for a TAM player is US$1.5 million — a significant drop from Bradley’s $6.5 million this season (second highest in the league).

The 32-year-old Bradley has always been committed to Toronto, both the team and city. And having already earned $39 million here, he may well be willing to do what’s needed to keep the train rolling.

There are other numbers to address.

Toronto spent more than $2 million this season on five centre backs: Omar Gonzalez ($1,193,935, although he arrived mid-season), Chris Mavinga ($663,333), Laurent Ciman ($435,624), Drew Moor ($375,000) and Eriq Zavaleta ($296,962).

And once again, the team finds itself paying its backup goalkeeper more than the starter with former No. 1 Alex Bono earning $382,000 to Quentin Westberg’s $115,254.

Fullback Richie Laryea has earned a raise from the league minimum of $56,250.

Vanney probably merits a raise too, given the roller-coaster year that started with the departure of GM Tim Bezbatchenko, Giovinco, Victor Vazquez and Gregory van der Wiel. Replacements took time.

“Our group has battled,” he said. “It’s been a season, in some ways, that’s felt like two or three seasons all in one.”

Just Posted

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Shiree Appleman
Innisfail RCMP looking for missing woman

Innisfail RCMP is asking the public to help locate a woman who… Continue reading

Rotary Club of Red Deer logo.
Red Deer Rotary Club hosting tree planting event later this month

The Rotary Club of Red Deer will host a tree-planting event later… Continue reading

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo shows off a vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on Friday, March 12, 2021. Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Family doctors say they can answer vaccine questions, after Trudeau recommends them

Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions… Continue reading

The Olympic rings float in the water at sunset in the Odaiba section of Tokyo, Wednesday, June 3, 2020. A new Leger poll suggests Canadians are divided over plans to send athletes from Canada to the upcoming Olympic games in Tokyo as Japan grapples with climbing COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Canadians divided on sending Team Canada athletes to the Tokyo Olympic Games: poll

OTTAWA — A new poll by Leger and the Association of Canadian… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Insert your name here

Back in the Paleolithic Era when a McDonald’s cheeseburger was 29 cents… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
Job search: Write a request that will get accepted

Last Thursday, when I logged into LinkedIn, I had nine connection requests… Continue reading

T-shirt with vaccine shot. (Contributed photo)
Letter: Hand out T-shirts with vaccine shots

I made myself a graphic T-shirt recently after getting my vaccine shot.… Continue reading

Most Read