Should You Be Worried About The Lack of Toronto FC Signings?

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 09: Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC lifts the Championship Trophy after winning the 2017 MLS Cup Final against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field on December 9, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 09: Michael Bradley #4 of Toronto FC lifts the Championship Trophy after winning the 2017 MLS Cup Final against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field on December 9, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

One. More goals than I scored in my entire career of playing school soccer. But, more importantly, the number of new signings Toronto FC have made since the last transfer window ended. Can you tell me the one? Well, I don’t even know if I would count it because it was signed in August (bolded for emphasis) and was a TFC II player who got a first-team contract in Jordan Perruzza. Now, all respect to the player but he isn’t the immediate massive difference maker TFC fans were expecting heading into this offseason.

Since that signing, Toronto announced the re-signings of defenders Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta. Both those moves were announced on February 23, the day after training camp opened in MLS. Now, I don’t know about you, but only having two players re-signed by training camp doesn’t seem like the most ideal situation; especially when you consider Toronto have an open Designated Player slot, four (now six) defenders with MLS experience, and a pretty big piece seemingly not returning in Pablo Piatti.

Now, before we get too critical about the club not signing anyone, it does appear it isn’t for a lack of trying. Toronto has been continually linked to River Plate attacker, Rafael Santos Borré as a potential DP. It was also rumoured that Pablo Piatti and the club were negotiating a TAM deal, but according to reports, he is close to returning to Spain. Apart from those two, it’s been pretty much radio silence on the transfer front.

Before you get your hopes up on Borré, recent reports indicate that Palmeiras have offered a 15 million dollar deal to him, so unless Toronto is willing to pay a pretty penny to sign him, that’s not going to happen.

Thus, our predicament. No signings, no reports, not even any substantial rumors linking Toronto FC to new players. This begs the question, should we be worried? Well, that answer is a little more complicated than simply a yes or a no.

The lack of TAM, GAM, or free agent signings is concerning. Even though these are very hit or miss, it would be nice to bring one or two players in to bolster the squad depth or add another option at LB or on the wing. But, they’ve got decent squad depth already (apart from the backline), so they could probably survive until the next transfer window. It would also give the front office some time to get a better idea of how the squad fits under new manager Chris Armas.

So, it kind of makes sense that Toronto hasn’t made many signings. They’re pretty happy with what they’ve got. They’re going to take the first couple of months of the season to learn about what they have and how all the pieces fit together.

Unless there’s something bigger at play that we aren’t seeing. Now, you might ask what am I talking about? How could Toronto take this long to figure out their signings, and why is it taking so long? And to that I counter with, they haven’t known about it for very long.

Sam Stejskal put out an excellent article on The Athletic recently talking about the new U-22 initiative MLS has implemented. This rule has yet to be officially announced, but as Mr Stejskal discusses in the article, the framework is pretty well set. That’s about as much as I’ll touch on the rule because you need to go and read the article to get the full picture, but let’s look at how it could affect Toronto.

As one of the larger and wealthier clubs in MLS, Toronto could be in an excellent position to benefit from it. With the new CBA only being announced a few weeks ago, it doesn’t give Toronto a ton of time to prepare for these new players or make these signings, and when one of your DPs needs to be U-22, it would require them to potentially do some searching for the right player.

We have had absolutely no indication that this is occurring, or that this is what the front office is planning to do, but Toronto FC could be preparing to use those U-22 initiative slots to their advantage, which would make sense. As I mentioned, they’re one of the richest clubs in MLS and they might as well take advantage of it. Especially if they could potentially profit off of these players in the future.

Earlier in the year, I wrote an article outlining some possible options for Toronto’s next DP, so if you want to see some of the players I came up with, from Europe, feel free. Although, I should mention that some of them are pretty out there and one of them is now off the table because Liam Miller joined Charlton Athletic on loan from Liverpool recently.

So, what are the big takeaways, and should you be worried about the lack of Toronto FC signings right now? It depends on how you look at it. If you’re an optimist, you probably won’t be too worried and hopeful that Toronto is working towards bringing in a new DP and three new U22 initiative players. But, if you’re a pessimist, you’re probably pretty frustrated with Toronto not having anyone signed with training camp already started.

I fall somewhere in between. While it’s worrying that there haven’t been many rumors about possible signings, there’s still time. Am I being overly optimistic? Probably, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and there are bigger things to be pessimistic about than who Toronto FC is going to sign before the season starts.