Toronto FC Profile
|Major Honours||MLS Cup (1), MLS Supporters' Shield (1), Voyageurs Cup (7)|
Treble winners in 2017, the Canadian giants are a force to be reckoned with in MLS.
MLS moved into Canada with an announcement in 2005 that Toronto had been awarded an expansion team owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. The team name of Toronto FC was announced on May 11, 2006, with the team's first season commencing in 2007.
The name Toronto FC was chosen after a public vote that also presented Inter Toronto FC, Toronto Northmen and Toronto Reds as options. The team nickname is the Reds and they also go by TFC. The primary team colour is red, with black, grey and white as secondary colours. They wear red kits at home and in 2020 started wearing grey kits on the road.
Toronto's crest is a shield surrounded by a red border with a red maple leaf on top. There is a large grey T in the middle of the shield with smaller F and C letters on either side at the bottom. A wide red ribbon cuts across the T with the word 'Toronto' written in white.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment run the club and they also operate the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors, the CFL's Toronto Argonauts and three minor league teams. They also own and operate NBA TV Canada, GolTV Canada and the Scotiabank Arena.
The Reds won the Treble in 2017 with an MLS Cup, Supporters' Shield and Canadian Championship. They have won seven Canadian Championships since 2009 and made the MLS Cup play-offs five times between 2015 and 2020, with three trips to the MLS Cup final. The Canadian Championship is the highest domestic professional soccer competition in Canada. It is also the only qualification route for teams in Canada into the CONCACAF Champions League.
The Reds have always had big-name players from Dwayne de Rosario, Jermain Defoe and Sebastian Giovinco to Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.
The rough early years
The Reds hired Mo Johnston as their first manager, while USMNT players Maurice Edu and Edson Buddle were in the initial squad. Toronto FC took to the field for the first time in 2007 and were shut out in each of their first four games. Danny Dichio scored their first-ever goal in a 3-1 win over Chicago Fire on May 12. However, TFC finished in last place in the MLS standings as an expansion team with six wins, seven draws and 17 losses.
Johnston moved into the front office before the 2008 season and John Carver took over. Johnston traded away nine players before TFC hosted the 2008 MLS All-Star Game at BMO Field. Dichio led the team with five goals in 2008, but TFC again finished in last place in the Eastern Conference with just nine wins. They played in the inaugural Canadian Championship and finished runners-up to Montreal Impact.
Toronto traded for Dwayne de Rosario before the 2009 season and drafted goalie Stefan Frei, but Dichio retired. Carver was let go in April and Chris Cummins finished the season as Toronto's interim manager. He won 12 of 31 MLS games, but TFC missed the play-offs by one game as they lost to New York Red Bulls on the final day of the regular season. They lifted the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champions though and qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, although they were subsequently eliminated in the preliminary round by Puerto Rico Islanders.
Former MLS star Preki was named manager for the 2010 season. The ownership group demanded a pla-yoff appearance, but with the team around .500 in September, both Preki and Johnston were fired. Toronto missed the MLS Cup play-offs but again won the Canadian Championship and, this time, made it to the group stage of the Champions League.
TFC brought in Aron Winter as manager and Paul Mariner as director of soccer before the 2011 campaign. Winter introduced a 4-3-3 formation to the club and De Rosario was among the players traded. Toronto brought in designated players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans before setting an MLS record with 39 players used over the campaign. They still missed the MLS Cup play-offs but won another Canadian Championship and advanced out of the Champions League group stage for the first time.
The 2012 season started with the Champions League quarter-finals, where TFC beat LA Galaxy 4-3 on aggregate before losing in the semi-finals to Mexico's Santos Laguna. They started the MLS season with nine straight losses and Winter was fired on June 7. While they won another Canadian Championship, TFC finished dead last in the Eastern Conference.
Ryan Nelsen was hired for the 2013 season, but TFC won just one of their first 13 MLS games. Their run of four straight Canadian Championships ended and TFC ultimately finished in ninth place in the East with just six wins.
De Rosario returned for the 2014 season and TFC also brought in Jermain Defoe from Tottenham and Michael Bradley from Roma on Designated Player contracts. The Reds won 11 games during the season but missed the play-offs by eight points. Nelsen was let go on August 31.
Vanney guides Toronto to success
Before the 2015 season, TFC hired Greg Vanney as manager while also signing Robbie Findley and swapping Defoe for Jozy Altidore. They also added Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco from Juventus. Bradley was named team captain after Steven Caldwell retired. The experience in the TFC team led them to the play-offs for the first time with 49 points and 15 wins. Giovinco scored 22 goals and added 16 assists over the campaign. He was named MLS MVP and Newcomer of the Year, becoming the first TFC player to win those awards, as well as winning the MLS Golden Boot. In their first-ever play-off game, Toronto lost 3-0 to Montreal in the Canadian Classique.
2016 got off to a great start as Giovinco kept scoring. He grabbed a hat-trick against D.C. United to break De Rosario's career scoring record. TFC won the Canadian Championship on away goals against Vancouver. In the knockout round of the MLS Cup play-offs, they beat Philadelphia Union 3-1 as Giovinco and Altidore scored. In the conference semi-finals, they won 7-0 on aggregate as Giovinco hit a hat-trick in the second leg. The Eastern Conference final was a Canadian Classique and Montreal won the first leg 3-2 before TFC took the second leg 5-2 in extra time. The MLS Cup final was played in Toronto against Seattle and the game was goalless after 120 minutes. Both teams missed a penalty kick in the first five rounds and Seattle won 5-4 after six rounds.
The 2017 season was the strongest in TFC's history. They won the Supporters' Shield with 69 points, leading the East with 20 wins and nine draws from 34 games. They led the league with 74 goals, 16 from Giovinco and 15 from Altidore. TFC beat Montreal in the final of the Canadian Championship, 3-2 on aggregate, thanks to two Giovinco goals. They beat Red Bulls on away goals in the conference semi-finals of the MLS Cup play-offs and defeated Columbus Crew 1-0 in the East finals with a goal by Altidore. TFC then got revenge against Seattle at home in the MLS Cup final with a 2-0 win as Altidore and Victor Vazquez scored.
In 2018, TFC added Ayo Akinola and they started the season with Champions League play, beating Colorado Rapids in the round of 16. In the quarter-finals, they beat UANL before defeating Mexican side America in the semi-finals. TFC faced Guadalajara in the two-legged final, losing 2-1 at home but winning 2-1 in Mexico as Altidore and Giovinco scored. They fell 4-2 on penalty kicks though as Jonathan Osorio and Bradley both missed. TFC couldn't successfully defend their MLS title either as they missed the play-offs after losing three of their final four games of the season.
Giovinco left before the 2019 season but TFC managed to bounce back and make the play-offs. They lost the Canadian Championship to Montreal on penalties and were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16. In the MLS Cup play-offs, they routed D.C. United 5-1 in the first round before beating NYCFC 2-1. In the East final, they beat Atlanta United 2-1 to set up a third MLS Cup final against Seattle. This one was on the road and TFC lost 3-1, with Altidore scoring in the 93rd minute.
The 2020 season was interrupted by COVID-19 and TFC won their group at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July. However, they fell to NYCFC in the round of 16, with Altidore hobbled. Six regular-season games were used for the Canadian Championship and TFC won four and drew two, advancing to the final, which will be played in 2021. In MLS, Toronto were leading the table when they clinched a play-off spot on October 11 but ultimately finished second in the East. In the first play-off game, they were upset by seventh seed Nashville 1-0 in extra time, and Vanney left to manage the LA Galaxy.
Laurent Ciman and Pablo Piatti also left the team after the 2020 season and Chris Armas was hired as the new manager in January 2021.
Toronto FC's rivals
The top rivals for Toronto FC are the two other MLS teams from Canada - Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps. The strongest rivalry is with Montreal, which forms the Canadian Classique or 401 Derby. In MLS games, Toronto have a 13-8 advantage over Montreal with four draws. The two sides have met twice in the MLS Cup play-offs, with each winning a series. In the Canadian Championship, TFC have an 11-4 advantage with five draws. They also met in the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020, with Toronto winning 4-3.
Toronto have enjoyed a competitive rivalry with Seattle as the teams have met in three MLS Cup finals. Seattle won in 2016 and 2019, while Toronto took the title in 2017.
Toronto and Columbus play for the Trillium Cup, which started in 2008. The trillium is the official flower of Ontario, Canada, and the official wildflower of Ohio. Toronto and Columbus are also on the Great Lakes and the mayors of both cities promoted the rivalry by placing a friendly wager on the first cup battle. Toronto took 2,500 fans on a bus trip to the first game in Columbus, which the Crew won 2-0. Subsequent 0-0 and 1-1 draws in 2008 saw the Crew claim the first cup 5-2 on points.
It took until 2011 for Toronto to beat Columbus and win the cup, but they won four of five from 2016 to 2020. The teams met in the 2017 MLS Cup play-offs with a 0-0 draw in Columbus and a 1-0 win for TFC in Toronto as the Canadian side advanced to the MLS Cup final.
Toronto FC's top players
Toronto have had plenty of big-name players, especially since 2015. Canadian Jonathan Osorio has played the most games for the side with 263 entering the 2021 season, while Justin Morrow has played in 229 games. Captain Michael Bradley, who has also captained the USMNT, has featured in 214 games.
Sebastian Giovinco scored 83 goals between 2015 and 2018 and holds the single-season record with 23 as well. Jozy Altidore enters the 2021 season with 74 overall goals, while Osorio has netted 42.
Goalkeeper Alex Bono has kept 30 clean sheets, three more than Stefan Frei recorded.
Among the other big names to play for Toronto are Dwayne de Rosario, Jermain Defoe, Robbie Findley, Ayo Akinola, Edson Buddle, Maurice Edu, Danny Dichio, Torsten Frings, Omar Gonzalez and Victor Vazquez.