Three things to know about Toronto FC ahead of 2020 MLS season

Toronto FC midfielder Nick DeLeon (18) celebrates his goal with teammate Alejandro Pozuelo (10) during extra time MLS playoff soccer action against the D.C. United, in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Toronto FC enjoyed a short off-season although they were left with a sour taste in their mouths over the last three months after falling to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup final in November.

The Reds made one big signing over the winter along with re-upping a cornerstone of their franchise to set up what should be, once again, a competitive season on the pitch at BMO Field.

Here’s three things you need to know about TFC before they start their 2020 campaign on Saturday on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Skipper Sticks Around

Michael Bradley took a pay cut in December to sign a new deal with Toronto FC using targeted allocation money (TAM).

Toronto’s captain made US$6.5 million last year at the end of a six-year contract. He’s helped the franchise earn multiple trophies, including an MLS Cup in 2017 along with the Supporters’ Shield and multiple Canadian Championships while playing in over 200 games across all competitions. He’s added 13 goals and 28 assists along the way as well.

Fans won’t get to see Bradley on the pitch until at least May after he underwent right ankle surgery in January to a fix loose cartilage fragment. It was injured during the MLS Cup final although he had initially downplayed it in hopes rehab would be enough.

Other players such as Canadian international Liam Fraser will need to step up in midfield to fill the void left in Bradley’s absence.

The New Guy

If there was a glaring hole for the Reds during their championship game last fall, it was the lack of finishing up top with Jozy Altidore injured. So the team went out and signed Argentine winger Pablo Piatti with the designated player spot vacated by Bradley and his new deal.

Piatti, 30, comes to MLS from La Liga’s Espanyol on a free transfer during his fourth season with the club. He had scored 14 goals and 19 assists in 95 appearances in all competitions for Espanyol.

Toronto’s three designated player slots are now filled by Piatti, Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo.

Much like Bradley, however, Piatti’s debut with Toronto is on pause as he suffered a strained hamstring during training camp which will see him miss the start of the campaign.

Who’s In? Who’s Out?

IN:
• Ifunanyachi Achara (F)
• Pablo Piatti (W)
• Rocco Romeo (D)
• Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty (M)
• Jayden Nelson (F)

OUT:
• Drew Moor (D – Free Agency, Colorado)
• Nicolas Benezet (M)
• Jay Chapman (M – Traded to Inter Miami)
• Caleb Patterson-Sewell (GK)
• Ashtone Morgan (D)
• Aidan Daniels (F)
• Ryan Telfer (F)
• Jon Bakero (F)

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