Toronto FC are at a critical juncture in the 2019 season and they haven’t even kicked off the Major League Soccer regular season.
The Reds have tumbled out of the CONCACAF Champions League following their elimination on Tuesday night at BMO Field. All eyes are now on the MLS regular season.
Toronto will kick off the campaign against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 2nd. A lot of the questions surrounding the Reds will be answered in that first 90 minutes of the league season.
CONCACAF Champions League
The Champions League ended on Tuesday night with a 1-1 draw to Independiente. Toronto dug themselves a hole in the first leg with a 4-0 loss. Hopes of overturning that aggregate score deficit looked promising thanks to Jordan Hamilton’s 19th minute goal. However, Independiente held firm and killed off the tie with a second half strike from Omar Ezequiel Browne Zuniga.
Supporters will wonder if things would have been different had Toronto not sold Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez in the offseason. The club is looking to a new era and wants to get back to playoff contention in MLS rather than fighting for continental glory in the Champions League.
Due to MLS’s salary structure and financial mechanisms, having the calibre of players to fight on multiple fronts is nearly impossible. Toronto proved that last season having qualified for the Champions League final while failing to make the MLS Playoffs.
Toronto Welcomes Alejandro Pozuelo
Toronto may have sold 32-year-old Giovinco – a move that might prove to be the correct by season’s end – but they have reinvested his transfer fee into Spanish attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo.
According to news reports, Pozuelo has been on the Toronto radar for over a year. Which makes you think the Reds front office had planned Giovinco’s departure well in advance. Pozuleo has an interesting Resume with teams from Spain, England, and Belgium listed on it. He started his career at hometown club Real Betis before moving to Swansea City where he played in the Premier League.
Since 2016, Pozuelo has played for Belgium’s Genk. He has been a solid performer for the club appearing in 175 games, scoring 25 goals, and adding 60 assists. The Belgian league is an underrated division in Europe and Pozuelo should step into the side and make an impact right away. At least that is what should be expected from him.
Pozuleo’s deal shouldbe made official shortly as he will make $4.5 million a season over the next four years, according to reports. While Toronto are excited to get their man, Genk are said to be unhappy with losing such an important offensive weapon. The deal is not yet official but it has been agreed in principal. By the time Toronto kick off in Philly, the deal may be finalized.
Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC agree to extension
On Thursday, MLS announced Toronto have signed Jozy Altidore to a contract extension until 2022. The striker is only 29-years old and has had the most success of his professional career in a Toronto shirt. Altidore has scored 45 goals in 88 MLS games for the Reds.
Are supporters happy Altidore was kept over Giovinco and Vazquez? Time will tell.