The 2021 Toronto FC Season Review – What Went Wrong?

Toronto FC midfielder Richie Laryea scores on November 7, 2021
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EDITORIAL – The 2021 Toronto FC edition was supposed to follow the excellence of previous seasons. However, as many readers will know, that did not happen. There were a few reasons why TFC struggled this year and finished with the second-worst record in MLS.

Toronto FC Season Review in 2021 – What Went Wrong

Team MVP

The Most Valuable Player for Toronto FC was Richie Laryea. Despite being a right-back, he was able to score three goals for Toronto. That is just one goal off the team lead, which was led by Jonathan Osorio. Laryea edged Osorio as Laryea can play both as a midfielder and as a right-back. He can also create plays for his team with his speed. An example could be seen against Columbus Crew SC, which helped Toronto win the Trillium Cup.

He is also a player who can play defensively seen against Orlando City SC. Also, his impressive speed does not always appear in the stat sheet. However, it is notable to the players on the pitch and is a big reason why he is part of the CanMNT’s roster.

Strengths

The two-leg upset over Club León

The only positive spotlight for Toronto FC was probably their two-leg upset against Club León in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League. Yes, Leon did commit their own goal in the first leg. However, it was created by Gallardo stealing the ball and the pressure of Jozy Altidore that caused the own goal. Sometimes in these types of matches creating one’s own luck is the way to try and win a tie.

The second leg was probably the best game TFC played this year. The goal seen above was created thanks to a great Jacob Shaffelburg delivery. Patrick Mullens was at the right place to get the ball and put the ball into the back of the net. TFC legend, Justin Morrow scored the other goal as TFC advanced to the Concacaf Champions League.

It is important to note that because of COVID-19 restrictions at that time, TFC played their home game in Orlando. They would get eliminated by Cruz Azul in the next round of Concacaf Champions League. However, it was still positive for TFC in the Concacaf Champions League.

Young Players Stepping Up

Shaffelburg is probably the player that comes to mind. His performances in the Canadian Championship were spectacular. He also had a good spell of games in the latter part of the MLS season. He had three goals and three assists for the Reds in the 2021 MLS season. As a result, Shaffelburg made the October roster for the CanMNT. He was also probably the best player for TFC in the Canadian Championship. He scored one goal against Pacific FC and played a part in two of the four goals scored against York United FC.

The other notable include Noble Okello who played 14 games and started in 10 of them. His effort on defence rewarded him several starts with TFC. Unfortunately, he did get injured late in October, but it shows that there are many good players from the Toronto FC Academy. Luke Singh also played well to start the year, playing well against Club León. He also scored his first-ever MLS goal against CF Montréal.

Weaknesses

Defence and Goalkeeping Mistakes

The defence was weak this year. It did not matter if it was Luke Singh, Eriq Zavaleta, or Omar Gonzalez. The central defenders and the defence, in general, had trouble keeping goals out of the net. The highlight was losing 7-1 to DC United. It was also the game that eventually cost Chris Armas’ job as Toronto FC’s head coach.

TFC has also given up the first goal of the game too many times. This is not a recipe for success and tends to result in points lost. As a result, Toronto has given the second-most goals of MLS and had the second-worst record in all of MLS. They just avoided winning the dubious Wooden Spoon. An example was Eriq Zavaleta, who pulled down Adam Buksa according to Kelowna Daily Courier.

Also, yes, both Alex Bono and Quentin Westberg made one serious mistake each in the 2021 MLS season. However, the goalkeepers played decently well considering the troubles they had on defence. In fact, Westberg was the main reason why TFC only lost by one goal in the Canadian Championship Final.

Grade: F+

Yes, TFC defeated Club León and won the Trillium Cup, and they deserve credit for it. However, the expectations fell far short from the start of the 2021 MLS season.

Injuries

In the preview of the 2021 MLS season, injuries were a concern with the team. Unfortunately, this would ultimately lead to their failure in the 2021 MLS season. It was also much more severe than anyone could have anticipated. Yes, Jozy Altidore missed a lot of games. However, there were also other players that got injured. Alejandro Pozuelo, for example, got injured in the Canadian Championship Final. Soteldo played limited minutes against CF Montréal. Most notably though, were the injuries to both Ayo Akinola and Noble Okello. Both injuries were season-ending injuries, in a time when both players were playing well for TFC.

Offseason – 2021 Toronto FC season review

TFC is already making splashes in the offseason. They got well-renowned USMNT coach Bob Bradley. He will not just be the coach but also the Sporting Director of Toronto. He might even be willing to give players playing time if they are good enough for the job. They are also likely to get Lorenzo Insigne from Serie A. Keep in mind that either Jozy Altidore or Yeferson Soteldo would have to leave the team for this to happen as they are both Designated Players. MLS teams can only have a maximum of three Designated Players on their teams.

They have already improved on their defence by getting Shane O’Neill from the Seattle Sounders FC. Lastly, there are also other rumours of other players joining TFC, but nothing is concrete as of right now.

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