Toronto FC and their five best players in Franchise History

Toronto FC Giovinco

Editorial — Many worthy players featured for Toronto FC over the years. This includes players like Dwayne De Rosario and James Brennan. This list has tried to keep a balance of defenders, midfielders, and strikers on this list. In that case, there will be lots of strikers with plenty of goals not on this list.

Also to note, this list does not include high-profile players who only played for TFC for one season. This includes Jermaine Defoe and Julio Cesar who lasted with TFC for a year or less with the club. The list also does not include Alejandro Pozuelo. However, he can make this list if he stays with TFC for a few more years.

Four of the five players who played for Toronto were MLS Cup Champions in 2017. They all played a pivotal role in making Toronto FC arguably the best team in MLS history in 2017.

Toronto FC’s Five Best Players

  1. James Brennan – Defender and TFC’s first-ever Captain

Also known as Jimmy Brennan, TFC’s original captain brought a lot to Toronto FC. His tenure from 2007-11 had a lot of highlights. His highest one being a two-time MLS All-Star in 2007 and 2008 representing Toronto FC. Back in 2008, Brennan said being in Toronto carries a special meaning for him.

“It carries special meaning for me representing the home team in our stadium,” said the defender to CBC News. “I know the crowd is going to be fantastic, so I’m looking forward to it.”

He was also part of the winning 2009 Canadian Championship team for TFC. Other accolades include Toronto FC and Red Patch Player of the Year in 2007. Meanwhile, he was also the TFC Defender of the Year in 2008 and Humanitarian of the Year Award winner in 2009.

There is no question that Brennan played a big role in TFC’s early years as a franchise. The York native got to captain his hometown and led them in their most challenging years. The only year they had success was in 2009 when they almost made the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the other four players on this list in contrast to Brennan enjoyed lots of success in Toronto.

  1. Jonathan Osorio – Toronto FC Canadian Midfielder

This might be controversial, but Osorio has contributed more to TFC then De Rosario. Osorio is a Canadian midfielder that has played for TFC since 2013. He is the current longest-tenured player for TFC and has played in the highest level, like the MLS Cup and CONCACAF Champions League Finals. He has scored a total of 28 goals and 32 assists.

His best season was his 2018 season in MLS and the CONCACAF Champions League. He scored 10 goals in the MLS season and four in the Champions League. TFC made the CONCACAF Champions League final, but lost agonizingly to Guadalajara in penalties. Meanwhile, Osorio also played a big role in the Canadian Championship trophy, scoring three goals in four games.

All of his individual accolades came in 2018. This includes:

  • CONCACAF Golden Boot.
  • Best XI in the 2018 CONCACAF Nations League.
  • George Gross Memorial Trophy
  • Red Patch Boys of the Year.

Osorio — like the top three players in this list — has lots of team accolades. This includes making it to the MLS Cup Final twice and winning once against the Seattle Sounders FC in 2017. He was also runner-up in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League and Campeones Cup. All these accolades are shared between Osorio, Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. Also, Osorio, Altidore, and Bradley were Canadian Championship and MLS Cup Final runners-up in 2019.

  1. Sebastian Giovinco – Italian Striker

It was hard to determine the top three on this list. They are all worthy of the top spot in TFC history. However, Giovinco is number three. According to MLS.com, he has scored 68 goals and 52 assists in MLS play. This is the most goals in Toronto FC’s franchise.

The most notable goal he scored was him passing through three or four defenders  against the New York Red Bulls in 2015. This goal ushered in the golden age of Toronto FC soccer. The win against the Red Bulls marked the first time in franchise in history that the team made it to the playoffs. Toronto failed to qualify for the playoffs from 2007-14, including missing the playoffs by a single point in 2009.

What he was most famous in MLS though was his goals from the free-kick spot. He has scored many goals from that spot allowing TFC to make it to two MLS Cup and one CONCACAF Champions League final. His individual accolades are too many to name, but some of them include winning the CONCACAF Champions League golden boot in 2018 and becoming the MLS MVP in 2015.

  1. Michael Bradley – American Midfielder and Current TFC Captain

Bradley, captain of TFC since 2014, has led the team through good and bad times. He is the unsung hero of TFC. You can catch Bradley always doing the dirty work. He’s a great communicator on and off the field. More importantly, his passing and vision of the game help players like Altidore, Giovinco, Pozuelo and several others to get scoring chances against the opposition.

He has scored 11 goals and has 25 assists for Toronto. However, his stats do not do justice of how much he means to the team. The captain has made lots of sacrifices for the greater good of the team. In 2018 and 2019, Greg Vanney has asked Bradley to play defense when Toronto had injuries or defensive struggles.

Loyalty to the City of Toronto

Finally, he unselfishly took less money as he took a massive home discount. According to Neil Davison of the Canadian Press, Bradley took a $6.5 million U.S. discount. He is no longer a designated plater and instead signed TAM money with Toronto.

According to Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun, team president Bill Manning praised Bradley’s dedication to the city.

“It wasn’t an ‘I’m taking a DP or nothing.’ His first words to me literally were: ‘Will you go get a DP if I accept a TAM deal?’” Manning said.

Bradley was the real big deal for Toronto FC. He has been in three MLS All-Star games and was named the Red Patch Boys Player of the Year in 2014. However, Defoe did give Toronto someone to admire. According to Davidson, a trade transfer sent Defoe to Sunderland while Altidore came to Toronto.

  1. Jozy Altidore – American Striker

Altidore was a strong forceful player for TFC and came to the team in 2015. There, he formed a great partnership with newly-signed player Giovinco and close friend Bradley. Putting him number one might be subjective, but he has scored some of the most important and iconic goals in Toronto FC history.

The first one was in the Eastern Conference finals against their Trillium Cup rivals Columbus Crew SC. He scored the game-winning goal while being injured. According to Benjamin Baer of MLS, Altidore was injured at the beginning of the second half. For a moment, it looked like he was going to leave the game.

However, Altidore was having none of it. He returned to the game and scored the game-winning goal. Then, he scored the goal that won Toronto the MLS Cup Final, as he got a shot past former goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Altidore has many individual accolades to his name. This includes being a two-time MLS All-Star and 2017 MLS Cup MVP.

Other Players that Made a Difference to Toronto FC

These five players are not the only players to make a difference with TFC. However, they made a significant impact on Toronto as an MLS franchise.

Many players should be mentioned as pivotal to Toronto FC. Danny Dichio was the one who scored the first-ever Toronto goal in 2007. Meanwhile, De Rosario was also the leading goal scorer when he left TFC.

The one category that should be mentioned is goalkeepers. Alex Bono played a big role in TFC’s success. However, he only had one or two good seasons with Toronto. Frei was a long-standing goalkeeper for Toronto FC, but didn’t win any championships. Finally, Quentin Westberg debuted last year with Toronto. He impressed current coach Greg Vanney and took over the role of starting goalkeeper from Bono.

There are a lot of players that made a difference for the franchise. These players have been with Toronto in their best years, but also in their most trying years. It is important to recognize them and what they brought not only for Toronto, but to MLS.

 

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