EDITORIAL – Toronto FC had many great players play for the team during this past decade. This includes players like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Dwayne De Rosario, and Johnathan Osorio. Most notably it was the team that won everything in 2017 including MLS Cup and also booked their place in the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Final.
Toronto FC Decade Starting XI in the 2010s
There have been several great players to play in a Toronto FC uniform. People who read a previous article about the five top players in Toronto FC history will have some idea on how the starting XI of this decade will look like.
One noticeable player not on this list is Alejandro Pozuelo. The big reason for Pozuelo’s omission is because he only played one year in the previous decade for Toronto FC.
Also, many of these players on this list have won MLS Cup in 2017 and been to the Concacaf Champions League Finals in 2018. There is no doubt that Pozuelo is better than most of the players mentioned in this article, but he will have to pay his dues and be with Toronto FC for at least a few years before being put above some of the midfielders mentioned in the article.
Sebastian Giovinco (2016-19)
It will be hard to not include Sebastian Giovinco as a striker for Toronto FC. He has scored some of the greatest goals in TFC and MLS history. According to MLS.com, he has scored 68 goals and 52 assists in MLS play. This is the most goals scored in Toronto FC’s franchise history. He won the MLS MVP in 2015, becoming the first player to score at least 20 goals and 10 assists.
His tremendous speed and agility are what make Giovinco so dangerous. Furthermore, Giovinco is well-renowned for his free kicks.
With TFC, he has helped the team become a perennial contender for MLS Cup. He has been to two MLS Cup Finals with Toronto FC, winning one MLS Cup in 2017. He has also won the Canadian Championship with TFC in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Lastly, he was part of the TFC team that narrowly lost to C.D. Guadalajara in penalties in the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Final.
One problem Giovinco may have is his physicality. Many opposing players’ main focus will be stopping Giovinco because of his skill and speed. While Giovinco is extremely skillful, he is small in stature and therefore can get bullied and pushed by opposing players. This is where Jozy Altidore comes in. With his speed, size, and touch he is the perfect striker partner for Giovinco.
Jozy Altidore (2016-Present)
Altidore is probably one if not the most popular current player for Toronto FC. After having a tough spell with Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League, Altidore had made a successful run in Toronto. He had a total of 56 goals scored for Toronto FC. This includes two of the most iconic goals in TFC history. The first one was the game-winning goal against Columbus Crew SC in leg two of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Finals. This goal was scored despite Altidore just minutes before experiencing a hamstring injury.
Furthermore, the goal everyone is going to remember is the one Altidore scored in the MLS Cup Final against the Seattle Sounders FC. Drew Moor, the defender of Toronto FC, explains how the Altidore goal was made possible.
“It’s funny because I remember when Jozy was in on goal when I saw him on a breakaway what was going through my head was how quickly we got the ball to that side of the field.” Moor said to MLS. “And not a lot of people talk about the fact that 10 total touches between seven different players.”
Marky Delgado (2015-Present)
It was a hard decision to leave Dwayne De Rosario out of the midfielder role in the Starting XI. If this were an article about all-time best TFC midfielders, De Rosario would be on this list. However, De Rosario barely played two years for Toronto FC in the previous decade while Delgado has been with the organization since 2015.
Before playing for Toronto FC, he played for Chivas USA. He was a homegrown player there until Chivas USA unfortunately folded in 2014. According to the Canadian Press of Sportsnet, Greg Vanney, head coach of Toronto FC who worked with Delgado at Chivas USA, saw something in Delgado.
“At 16, he was on the (Chivas) under-19 team, training with the first team,” recalled Vanney. “He has just an incredible capacity to cover ground. Jim Liston (TFC’s director of sport science) was working with us at Chivas at that time. He said ‘This kid has a world-class engine.”’
Delgado did not have many playing minutes in 2016. In 2017, Delgado would make his move and become part of the starting lineup.
“If guys are out of position, Marky will slide into that position. He’ll assume that role, whether it be defensive or offensive. And he’s always balancing the team off. That’s an extraordinary strength in of itself. I don’t know if most people pick up on that. But once you understand, really get down deep into how we play and where we want people positioned …. it’s an incredible skill that he has.”
He and Jonathan Osorio really worked hard together to make sure the midfield was won by Toronto FC.
Jonathan Osorio (2013-Present)
Osorio is the longest-serving current Toronto FC player. He has been with the team since 2013. Like Delgado, Osorio will do the dirty work to get possession of the ball in the middle of the park. Osorio has also shown an offensive side to his game. In 2018, he scored 10 goals in MLS play, three goals in the Canadian Championship, and four goals in the Concacaf Champions League.
Osorio won the CONCACAF Champions League Golden Boot, CONCACAF Champions League Best XI, George Gross Memorial Trophy, and the Red Patch Boys Player of the Year in 2018. He is an excellent Canadian player entering into the peak of his career. Expect him to make one or two MLS All-Star Appearances in the next few years. He will be a key player for Toronto FC.
Victor Vazquez (2017-18)
Victor Vazquez was only with the team for two years. However, those two years were the best in Toronto FC history. He was part of the best if not one of the best teams in MLS history. Toronto FC won everything in 2017, including the Supporters Shield, MLS Cup, and the Canadian Championship. James Grossi, an MLS contributor said this when Vazquez left TFC:
“We’re going to miss him,” said Vanney. “Victor has been a loyal servant to the club, a fantastic player and an even better person. This opportunity came up for him and his family. We understood, came to an agreement.”
He had 16 goals and 25 assists in his time with Toronto FC. Vazquez was also the 2017 Red Path Boys player of the year award. He was also responsible for TFC’s second goal against Seattle Sounders FC in the 2017 MLS Cup Final. It all started with then Toronto FC player Armando Cooper hitting the post:
“Honestly when Armando dribbled the keeper I didn’t realize that the volley was coming to me because I think okay now we scored, the score is 2-0 and then it’s done but then it was to the post and then the rebound was straight on my body I even touched I think with this and this but I put on my body in front because I was really close to the goal and then I scored and the feeling is like wow we did it.”
The only thing that did not happen when Vazquez was with TFC was winning the Concacaf Champions League, losing agonizingly to Guadalajara. If he stayed a bit longer for Toronto FC, he might have been considered one of the best TFC players of all-time like Michael Bradley.
Michael Bradley (2015-Present)
Bradley is the heart and soul of Toronto FC. One of the longest-tenured current TFC players, Bradley came in the Bloody Big Deal in 2015. Sure, Tim Leiweke and Jermain Defoe left the organization shortly after, but Bradley has remained with the club ever since. Tim Bexbatchenko said this on Toronto FC:
“It’s funny because Michael’s introduction was the very same day, it was at that same event. For me, the ‘Bloody Big Deal’ was an idea of the kind of club we wanted to become, more than it was about Jermain Defoe.
Perhaps that’s revisionist history, but for me being a part of it that day on the stage, and getting the support from our ownership, it was about that idea and sending a signal to everyone that we’re not going to be a laughing matter any more,” Bezbatchenko told Sportsnet in a one-on-one interview on Thursday afternoon.
Bradley has been the captain of Toronto FC since 2015 taking over Steven Caldwell’s job. Vanney has asked Bradley to take a wide variety of jobs. One is to be the anchor and leader on the pitch. And then there were other times like 2018, where Bradley played a lot of games in defence.
Steven Caldwell (2013-15)
Caldwell was the captain of Toronto FC from 2013-15. He made a big contribution to TFC according to Pamanci11 of Walking The Red. Pamanci11 stated that Caldwell improved TFC’s goal differential from 1.44 goals to 1.36 goals per game. He also improved the winning percentage of Toronto FC by nine percent (from 11 to 20 percent). This resulted in Caldwell winning the 2013 Red Patch Boys Player of the Year Award.
“He has to be one of the best if not the best signing this club has made,” said assistant coach Fran O’Leary. “He’s a terrific professional, a terrific player and a better human being.” “The influence he’s had quickly on the field and in the dressing room has been unbelievable. I think you just have to look at the improvement in the young players around him. They’ll be the first to give him a bucket-load of credit. So we’re delighted.”
He was an unselfish player that lead with his leadership. The players who played for Caldwell during his time at Toronto FC gained valuable experience from one of the best defenders in MLS. Caldwell is now a broadcaster for Toronto FC. He and Luke Wileman work together to call Toronto FC’s MLS games live on TV.
Justin Morrow (2014-Present)
Justin Morrow is probably the most well-known defender for Toronto FC in the previous decade. In his first year with Toronto FC, Mitchell Tierney of Waking the Red declared him the team’s MVP for 2014. In total, he has made 173 appearances and has scored 17 goals for Toronto FC.
This included scoring three goals against the New York Red Bulls on September 30th, 2017. This played a big role in Toronto FC winning the game. TFC was able to win the game 4-2 and win the Supporters Shield in front of their home fans at BMO Field. This is what Vanney had to say about Morrow’s importance to TFC according to Toronto FC’s website.
“Justin Morrow continues to improve and produce. He’s become a vital part of our team. It’s good to have him solidified.” – Greg Vanney
Morrow was voted in as the MLS Best XI in 2017 by MLSsoccer.com. Also, according to Neil Davidson of the Canadian Press, a senior sportswriter revealed that Morrow was placed second in the MVP race. He was beaten by Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara, who ended up winning the MLS defender of the year in 2017.
Morrow played a big role in helping TFC win MLS Cup in 2017. One can say something similar about Drew Moor, who is the leader of the backline.
Drew Moor (2015-19)
The backbone of Toronto FC’s defence from 2015-2019, Drew Moor deserves a lot of credit. Probably the greatest defender TFC has had in this decade with Morrow, Moor has led from the front. Vanney talks about Moor, and what he means for Toronto FC’s defence according to Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun:
“He’s been here the longest (of the guys in the back line),” Vanney continued. “He’s got the best relationships with the guys he’s working with in terms of being the leader of them and I think that helps Chris (Mavinga).
If Bradley was the leader of the midfield, Moor was the guy on the defensive end. Being a leader and having his fellow defenders organized each game was his job as a Toronto FC player. His contribution to the TFC organization will not be forgotten.
Chris Mavinga (2017-Present)
Mavinga came into the Toronto FC organization in 2017. Like many former Toronto FC players on this list, he enjoyed lots of success in 2017 and in the Concacaf Champions League in 2018. He also played a big part in Toronto FC getting to the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Final. Current general manager Ali Curtis explains in a Canadian Press article.
“Chris is a player that has played a significant role in the success of the club over the past three years,” Toronto GM Ali Curtis said in a statement. “He has excellent tools for the position — left-footed, excellent speed and loves competing in the biggest games.”
He is known for his physicality, which has proven to be helpful for the TFC defence. For example, against NYCFC last year, Mavinga prevented a sure goal with his aggressive, but well-timed tackle.
Alex Bono (2015-Present)
There might be cases for Stefan Frei or Quentin Westberg to have the top spot for the best goalkeeper in the previous decade. However, the honours go to Alex Bono. He made some big saves in his career with Toronto FC. This includes making a big stop against Club American in leg two of the Concacaf Champions League semi-finals.
In the 2017 season alone, he had 10 shutouts in the 2017 MLS Season according to MLS.com. This was good enough to be placed fourth place for the MLS goalkeeper award according to Sam Stejskal of MLS.com. That year he won the Canadian Championship, Supporters Shield, Eastern Conference Championship, and lastly the 2017 MLS Cup.
Toronto FC Key Bench Players of the Last Decade
Tosaint Ricketts (2016-18) – Forward
Tosaint Ricketts was a key player for Toronto FC. In 51 appearances, he scored 13 goals for Toronto FC. This included a big goal in the 2016 MLS Eastern Conference Finals leg two at BMO Field against the Montreal Impact in extra time. This allowed Toronto FC to win the second leg 5-3, which helped TFC advance to their first-ever MLS Cup Final in 2016. Greg Vanney explains how much Ricketts meant to Toronto FC in 2016 according to ESPN Soccer.
“He’s like a secret weapon, though not much secret anymore,” Vanney said of Ricketts’ impact after the game. “His speed and relentless running … The last thing you want to do as a tired defender is to chase that guy. If you get in a footrace, you’re sure to lose it.”
In a way, he is very similar to Ritchie Laryea, another Canadian playing for Toronto FC. The difference is that Ricketts played three seasons for Toronto FC and Laryea only played one full season for TFC. Other players that missed the list were Nicolas Benezet and Nick DeLeon, who unlike Ricketts only played for Toronto FC for one full year.
The other bench player on this list is another Canadian that played for Toronto FC for four seasons. De Rosario carried his team on his back and scored many goals in TFC’s 2010 MLS season.
Dwayne De Rosario (2009-11, 2014)
De Rosario and Pozuelo are very similar. De Rosario really only had one good season (discounting the 2009 MLS Season). However, he played some games in the 2011 and 2014 MLS Season that allowed him to make the list. He scored 15 goals in the 2010 MLS season and made it to the 2010 MLS All-Star Game.
If one of the strikers or midfielders gets injured, De Rosario has the talent to replace them. Although De Rosario is not the type of player one would have on the bench, he adds a lot of depth to TFC’s starting XI.
DeRosario came to Toronto FC in 2008 via trade with the Houston Dynamos. According to Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle, TFC traded Julius James and allocation money in 2008.
There were many great players to wear the Toronto FC uniform in the last decade. There were many heartbreaks like the 2016 and 2019 MLS Cup Finals and the 2018 Concacaf Champions League Finals. However, there was also jubilation like the 2017 MLS Cup win.
Toronto FC and their All-Time Decade Review
As many readers might have noticed many of these players on the list were or are with TFC since 2014. This was because from 2007-14 TFC never made the playoffs. The only highlight before 2014 was beating the LA Galaxy in the 2011 Concacaf Champions League Final. Although, there was a conscious effort to recognize players who contributed to the organization early on for Toronto FC like Caldwell and De Rosario.
However, in 2015 onwards, TFC has been incredibly successful. With the notable exception of 2018, TFC has qualified for every single MLS post-season since 2015. They have been to three MLS Cup Finals, and one Concacaf Champions League Final. Furthermore, they have won one MLS Cup and four Canadian Championships since 2015.
Giovinco, Altidore, Moor, and Bradley played a big role in building that team and making them MLS Cup contenders every single year. It is a credit to everyone within Toronto FC, especially Tim Leiweke. He made MLSE realize the potential in 2014, with the advertised Bloody Big Deal in 2014 that centred around Bradley and Jermain Defoe.
Also, there are also some players that just missed the cut like Pozuelo and Beitashour. Beitashour is a steady defender that played for TFC for two seasons. However, he was only playing for the team for two seasons. There were other great defenders like Moor and Morrow that helped solidify Toronto FC’s backline and helped TFC win MLS Cup in 2017.