|Toronto FC kicks off preseason||| Print ||
|Written by Dino Pasalic|
|Friday, 27 January 2012 14:42|
The event began with a press conference featuring head coach and technical director, Aron Winter; assistant coach, Bob de Klerk; director of player development, Paul Mariner; and director of team and player operations, Earl Cochrane. After the panel addressed several questions, reporters had some one-on-one time with the players and staff.
Winter told John Molinaro of sportsnet.ca that when he was hired last summer, the offseason didn’t run so smoothly.
“Last season was a false start because the moment we arrived ... we didn’t have a very strong roster. This season was very good start. We have done a great job in the offseason [signing and scouting players],” said Winter.
TSN's Luke Wileman told the thedailyplanet.com that the club should benefit from a more organized preseason compared to last year.
“[The coaching staff has] also been able to plan all of the preseason themselves having been here for a whole year leading up to this. So they’ve got their preseason and their training schedule to be exactly how they want it to be,” said Wileman.
“So it could only be a plus for Toronto FC that all these people, all these management teams that have just come into the club are now moving into a second season rather than going into a first one pretty blind," said Wileman.
Stability seemed to be an ongoing theme throughout the day. Unlike past years where the club has cleaned house during the offseason, a large core of players have remained with the team while the coaching staff looks to add depth and strengthen specific areas where quality is still needed.
“The difference this year with the team coming back for training camp this week is that they have a much more settled roster,” said Wileman. “Most of the players that were there last year are back again.”
Players officially reported to the club on Monday, completing a series of medicals leading up to their first training session on Thursday morning. After spending the next two weeks in Toronto, the team is scheduled to fly out to Florida to take part in the 2012 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, a preseason tournament that will also include several other Major League Soccer teams.
Following the high profile signings of Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans last summer, the TFC is felt by observers to have shown signs of improvement near the end of last season. Most notably, the club put together a 3-0 performance over FC Dallas, earning a quarterfinal birth in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Since arriving, Frings quickly became club captain, providing the team with what has been noted to be improved defensive composure and leadership, while Koevermans notched eight goals in 10 appearances. With the return of several key players and coaching staff, the ongoing construction of new training facility that will house the Toronto FC Academy, and new additions expected to arrive soon, the team appears to have fresh prospects
The Score Anchor and Footy Show Host James Sharman told thedailyplanet.com that this could be the year the Reds finally make the playoffs.
“They’ve got depth in defense, at least more than in the past. [There’s] depth in goal, midfields looking pretty good and up front, Danny Koevermans. ...I'm confident [that] this is the year they will finally make that big step and make the playoffs,” said Sharman.
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