Three Reasons Toronto FC Avoids Relegation In Top Euro Leagues
Why TFC Would Survive EPL And Serie A Relegation
Clearly, top teams in Serie A and the English Premier League would outpace an MLS Best XI at the top of the table. Nonetheless, Toronto FC contains the star power, depth and leadership needed to hypothetically stay within the top flight of these leagues.
An anonymous, 2016 survey of 123 MLS players revealed that 50% of respondents believe that the top team would finish between 10th and 14th in the Premier League. Some were more optimistic, with 17% of players stating that a Supporters’ Shield winner would be solid enough to finish between 5th and 9th in the EPL table. No one was delusional enough to consider an MLS team finishing top four.
Put simply, 67% of players believe that the best MLS teams can compete in the EPL, while one-third expect relegation. Nearly all respondents believe that the MLS continues to improve. Considering this survey took place before Toronto FC’s historic regular season, it appears that the Reds would be the team most likely to survive relegation in the top Euro leagues.
1. Stars Still In Their Prime
One of the key evolutions of the MLS revolves around the designated player rule which made it worthwhile for Euro stars like Beckham, Keane and Gerrard to join teams in Canada and the U.S. The main criticism of these transfers revolves around players past their prime, a critique that doesn’t apply to Toronto FC’s trio of Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore.
Jozy, Seba and Michael joined the Reds before their stars have started to fade. Giovinco, in particular, could easily contribute expert striking for teams in Euro leagues – a fact pointed out by Italian manager Gian Piero Ventura.
While not a designated player per se, midfielder Victor Vazquez joined Toronto FC under the targeted allocation money provision, although he could have earned DP salary with another squad.
These four stars wouldn’t represent the best foursome in most Euro leagues, but they would be sufficient to earn enough points to avoid relegation in the EPL and Serie A.
2. Depth For A Rainy Day
The salary structure in the MLS doesn’t allow for teams to spend exorbitant amounts on stocking the cupboards with depth players who earn salaries in the millions, but Toronto FC have been cagey enough to attract the necessary talent to survive the most extreme challenge of any MLS playoff team this year.
When Jozy and Seba were ruled out of the first leg of the eastern conference finals, many pundits were quick to side with the Columbus Crew as the eventual representatives from the east. Unlike previous editions of the Reds, Toronto was able to rally together to overcome the loss of their two prolific strikers.
Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, Drew Moor and others may not become household names in North America, but it was these players who supported unprecedented regular season success, and helped the team survive a difficult first leg of the eastern finals.
This doesn’t include players like Alex Moor, Chris Mavinga, Eriq Zavaleta, Marky Delgado and Nicolas Hassler, all of whom played crucial roles at one point or another during 2017. Without these terrific depth players, the Reds would have been drummed out of the MLS playoffs, perhaps relegated to the sidelines before the post season began.
3. Powerful Leadership
Transforming from a laughingstock into the best team in MLS history requires powerful minds at the leadership level. This started when sports exec guru Tim Leiweke joined MLSE, stabilizing the Reds, the Maple Leafs and the Raptors. Unlike previous leaders, Leiweke demanded respect for all three franchises, instead of gathering low-hanging fruit presented by the always-popular Toronto hockey franchise.
Tim brought in one of the best general managers in North American soccer, Tim Bezbatchenko, who executed a plan of attracting designated players still in their prime and surrounding them with all-important depth players. While Leiweke would soon depart for other opportunities, the plan set in motion by the two Tims ended up creating a juggernaut in Toronto.
Signing Michael Bradley and hiring coach Greg Vanney created an unprecedented atmosphere of accountability within the locker room, when prior teams simply coasted through the motions, win or lose.
This leadership was absolutely necessary for the Reds to earn their second consecutive MLS Finals appearance. Coach Vanney and Michael Bradley switched tactics to stymie a Columbus Crew personnel advantage in the first leg of the conference finals, allowing Jozy and Giovinco to return and put the second leg to rest in front of Toronto’s rabid fanbase.
More telling, the Reds aren’t just interested in winning their first MLS Cup. Toronto looks forward to the CONCACAF champions league, with the goal of becoming the first MLS side to win the most prestigious club competition in North America, usually dominated by Liga MX.
North American teams will likely never receive an invite to compete in the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga or Serie A, but the quality side fielded by Toronto FC in 2017 would compete at a high enough level to avoid relegation in any league around the globe.
Category : NFLMore articles...