- Toronto FC are fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 3-1-1
- New transfer Alejandro Pozuelo has made an instant impact
- TFC now have the sixth-best odds to win MLS Cup
After a down year in 2018 which saw Toronto FC miss the playoffs entirely, the team has rebounded with a strong start to the 2019 Major League Soccer season.
Toronto is fourth in the Eastern Conference, having only lost one game thus far. Their early success has been noticed by bookmakers who have adjusted their MLS Cup odds to an average of +1000.
2019 MLS Cup Odds
|Team||2019 MLS Cup Odds at Bovada|
|New York Red Bulls||+1400|
|New York City FC||+1400|
*Odds taken April 16, 2019. For a full list of teams click the link in the table.
Those odds have adjusted since opening at an average of +1400 earlier this year.
With no playoffs to deal with in 2018, Toronto FC had a longer offseason than usual. Though, they still got their season started sooner than most while competing in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL).
Whereas last year saw TFC struggle to balance the two competitions on their way to the CCL finals, that won’t be a problem in 2019.
Toronto was basically eliminated after their first match by suffering a 4-0 defeat to CAI in Panama. A 1-1 draw in the return fixture at BMO Field was not enough to advance.
A New Era for TFC
After years spent at the bottom of the MLS standings, Toronto FC transformed themselves into one of the league’s elite sides over the past few years. That included back-to-back trips to the MLS Cup Final in 2016 and 2017 – winning the title in 2017.
With designated players Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Sebastian Giovinco leading the way, TFC were always a threat.
However change was coming and 2019 saw Tim Bezbatchenko, the team’s senior vice president, soccer operations and general manager move onto a role with the Columbus Crew.
Replacing him was Ali Curtis, who most recently held the position of sporting director with New York Red Bulls.
In 2017, Toronto FC won the treble, capturing the Canadian Championship title, the MLS Supporters Shield and the MLS Cup. Was this the best Canada Soccer Moment of 2017? Vote now! https://t.co/r9wZGVVWJS pic.twitter.com/96Zu365gCj
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) December 27, 2017
2019 also saw the rather awkward departure of team legend Giovinco after the team was unable to reach a contract extension. It also marked the end of Victor Vazquez’s time with the club.
2019 saw the rather awkward departure of team legend Giovinco.
Vazquez, a player signed through targeted allocation money (TAM) in 2017, often battled injuries, but was just as important to the club as the three DPs.
Argentina SuperLiga season finished yesterday. TFC GM Ali Curtis was in Argentina two weeks ago. Definitely something to monitor. If actual target(s) are realistic to land, there could be movement on that front in the coming days/weeks. We'll see.
— Gareth Wheeler (@GarethWheeler) April 8, 2019
Among several other departures the club also began the season with an injured Altidore and no direct replacement for Giovinco. Fortunately they were able to still start strong with a 3-1 win over Philadelphia Union.
Altidore subbed on the following game and scored his first goal of the season while only playing 22 minutes of the match.
Pozuelo An Instant Impact
Another player on the bench that game was new DP signing Alejandro Pozuelo. Pozuelo joined TFC after playing out the regular season with Belgian side Genk – the Jupiler’s league’s top team.
Pozuelo wasted little time in endearing himself to the TFC faithful.
#TFC coach Greg Vanney has high hopes for Alejandro Pozuelo, expecting the Spaniard to play as much a role in the team's identity as previous Designated Players Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. (via @JohnMolinaro)https://t.co/nc9Xys1Zy2
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 25, 2019
In his first match with the club he set up Jozy Altidore with an assist, scored a panenka for his first TFC goal and chipped the New York City FC keeper for a second.
The connection between Altidore and the Spanish playmaker has returned immediate dividends.
Pozuelo has two goals and four assists in three matches, while Altidore has four goals and an assist during that same time. Pozuelo has assisted on all four of those goals to Altidore.
The two also rank among the league leaders in goals and assists – Jozy fourth in goals and Pozuelo tied for second in assists.
Wide-Open Eastern Conference
While DC United has quickly run out to the front of the pack in the East, they hold just a single point lead over second place Columbus. TFC are just four points back and with two games in hand.
DC were also run off the pitch 4-0 to league-leaders LAFC and struggled to only draw Montreal 0-0 without Wayne Rooney due to suspension.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 15, 2019
While Pozuelo’s arrival has sparked renewed optimism in Toronto, more additions could be on the way.
Curtis has spoke openly about the desire to complete further signings during this transfer window. TFC also hold more bargaining power by virtue of owning the top Allocation Order spot in the league.
With a strong start, new arrivals and no clear dominant team in the East, TFC should be worth a bet at +1000.