The 2022 Toronto FC MLS Season: What Could They Improve On?

Toronto FC Midfielder Jonathan Osorio Celebrates One of his 2022 Toronto FC Season Goals with his Teammates in Toronto, Ontario

ANALYSIS – The Toronto FC MLS Season did not go as planned. They had trouble getting results and their defence and goalkeeping left a lot to be desired. They also had the worst road record in the MLS Eastern Conference and a below-average home record. It is not all bad though, as the arrival of the Italians does provide TFC with some hope.

The Toronto FC MLS Season Review: What They Can Take from This Season?

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Most Valuable Player – Jonathan Osorio

Jonathan Osorio is the player that comes to mind. He tied the team in the number of goals and also led the team in assists (he had four assists if counting the Canadian Championship). For a player, who is a midfielder, that is impressive within TFC. It is a big reason why he is above Jesús Jiménez, who is a forward.

Osorio had an overall rating of 7.09 according to WhoScored. This included being given a decent rating for offence, defence, and passing, showing that he is an all-around midfielder. He is a calming influence in the midfield and Toronto missed him late in the season this year. His two most notable games were earning a goal and an assist in a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. The other is the road win against Nashville SC, where Osorio scored two goals for the team. Lastly, the game that was given the best rating was an 8.14 rating against New York City FC on March 4, 2022, according to WhoScored.


The Toronto FC’s Italians Made a difference

The 4-0 win over Charlotte FC was one that highlighted what TFC could become. For example, on the fourth goal, Lorenzo Insigne assisted in Michael Bradley’s goal with a fantastic flick pass. Also, in that same game, Federico Bernardeschi scored a goal in the 31-minute, showing the potential the Italians have for the team that calls BMO Field home.

There is also a great chemistry building with Bernardeschi and Insigne. Here are two examples:

  • Both Italians linked up on the first goal. Federico Bernardeschi delivered a cross following a corner, which found Lorenzo Insigne, whose kick was able to find the back of the net. Then in the second goal, Insigne passed the ball to Bernardeschi, who fired it past the Charlotte FC goalkeeper. TFC would win that game 2-0.
  • In the 4-3 loss to CF Montreal, the Italians contributed to all three goals. This included the second goal, where TFC’s Bernardeschi delivered a great cross to Insigne to score the goal.

Additionally, Insigne played terrific defense while Domenico Criscito has played a critical role in making big defensive plays. There is hope with this team in that regard.

Toronto FC Did Well in the Canadian Championship

If there was a saving grace to TFC’s success this year, it was the Canadian Championship. They won the 2020 Voyageurs Cup by the skin of their teeth in penalties against Forge FC. A game where the team from Hamilton dominated most of the game, but was unable to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.

Then looking at the 2022 Canadian Championship, Toronto played well in all three games. Their worst game of the three might have been against HFX Wanderers FC. They did not look great in the first half on the road, but they rebounded and got the win in the second half. It was a memorable moment for Jacob Shaffelberg. He played a major part in the own goal by Peter Schaale in the 86-minute of time.


Toronto FC Did Not Get an MLS Season Road Win until August

A big reason why Toronto FC finished with the worst road record in the MLS Eastern Conference was being unable to get results until late in the season. And even then, they were not getting results all the time since August. For context, they started the season with an 0-4-7 record. Meaning they only got four points in their first 11 games on the road. Also, if you take that road game on July 31 out, they have a record of 0-3-7. In their last six games, they had a 2-0-4 record, which was not great, but they still got six points. This was more points than what TFC had from April-August.

Games that got away for TFC included losing to New York City FC 5-4 at Citi Field and the 1-1 draw on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes. With the NYCFC game, TFC was winning that game 2-0 but was unable to hold on. This is while San Jose gave up a late game-tying goal to prevent TFC from getting a road win.

Trouble Keeping Clean Sheets

This is something that Toronto did not do a good job of. Before the season started, the last time TFC had a clean sheet was in a scoreless draw against Colorado Rapids. They then did not earn a clean sheet until Toronto won in the Canadian Championship semi-final match against CF Montreal. In that game, TFC scored four goals, with two of them coming from Ayo Akinola.

They then got a scoreless draw in MLS play against the New England Revolution on July 30, which is more than 10 months after their last draw in MLS action. A lot of that had to do with the defence, especially early in the season.

However, it also has to do with Toronto’s goalkeeping issues. A clear example of this was Alex Bono giving up two first-half goals in a 2-1 loss against Inter Miami CF on August 20, 2022. This was especially true of the first goal Bono gave up. He gave up a goal from Jean Mota’s shot. It was a shot that went straight to Bono, but the shot then passed Bono’s hands and into the back of the net.

Highlighting this game is not to say anything bad about Bono, but changes need to be made.

Highlighted Games

There are two that come to mind, and one of them was the 4-0 win against Charlotte FC. There was such energy and excitement surrounding that game. The way TFC dominated that game felt like something was going to change and the Italians had arrived. Of course, that did not happen, but it still was the biggest highlight this year.

BMO Field was electric that day as it felt like they were going to turn the season around. Another game that comes to mind was the 4-0 win over CF Montreal. Ayo Akinola scored two goals at home and TFC dominated from the beginning to the end. Most importantly, TFC had six shots on goal, and they capitalized on four of those chances. Quentin Westberg kept the clean sheet and they soundly defeated their Canadian Classique rivals at home.

The 2022 Toronto FC MLS Season Review: Things Need to Improve for Next Year

Grade: F+

The 2022 Toronto FC MLS season was unfortunately a disappointment. Winning the 2020 Voyageurs Cup is great, but they were the favourites to win that game. They also had success in the Canadian Championship, but they lost in the final against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in penalties.

The only silver lining was that a lot of Canadians are playing on the team. Lukas MacNaughton has really come into his own. He is making fewer mistakes on defence than at the beginning of the year, but still has some things to improve on. Players like Jayden Nelson and Ralph Priso (who were traded to the Colorado Rapids) are also getting playing time. There are also great Italians on the team that would play a big role on the team. With more playing time, they should make more of a difference next year as TFC looks to make the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2020.