Top 4 Soccer Players to Represent Toronto FC
In a country with a great love of ice hockey, soccer struggled to gain a foothold in Canada until Toronto FC came along. The franchise’s MLS history only stretches back 13 years but plenty of top-class players have graced the BMO Field in that time. So, let’s take a look at some of the best.
Víctor Vázquez 2017-2018
Victor Vázquez was only with the Reds for two seasons, but he made a big impact and changed the way they played. The Spaniard learned his craft in the youth ranks of European soccer giants FC Barcelona but graduated at a time when first-time opportunities were limited. A switch to Belgium saw his career take off and he was named Belgian footballer of the year in 2015.
After a short spell in Mexico, he arrived in Toronto in 2017 and hit the ground running. His cool distribution of the ball enhanced the team’s attacking play and allowed Michael Bradley to take up a more defensive role. He provided support to strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore and finished his debut season with 16 assists (second-highest in the league) and eight goals as his team claimed the Eastern Conference Championship and the MLS Cup. He was also named in the MLS Best XI. His second, and final season, was hindered by injuries but he still claimed eight goals and nine assists.
Sebastian Giovinco 2015-2018
A record of 68 goals and 52 assists speaks for itself. The Turin-born striker spent nine years as a professional at his hometown club Juventus before making the switch to Toronto for a record salary (ahead of Orlando City’s Kaká) of $7 million in 2015. His arrival prompted a revolution at Toronto FC as they reached the playoffs for the first time. His eye for goal and memorable set-pieces excited MLS crowd’s across the continent and helped propel the club to two MLS Cups and one CONCACAF Champions League final. Amongst his many honors are a CONCACAF Champions League golden boot, achieved in 2018, and an MLS MVP award, earned in 2015.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ww3Iuv8TP-Y” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>
Michael Bradley 2014-Present
Despite a career that has spanned five major leagues including the EPL, Germany’s Bundesliga and Serie A in Italy, Michael Bradley has become “Mr Toronto FC.” He is club captain and has spent six years at the club through many ups and downs. A true leader who is not afraid of taking responsibility, he has selflessly enabled others to flourish through his vision, defensive awareness and passing ability. A midfielder by trade, he has even played in defence when called upon and has made over 150 appearances for the USA national team. With Bradley at the helm, Toronto FC is the third favourite in the soccer betting to claim the 2020 MLS Cup.
Jozy Altidore 2015-present
Since bursting onto the professional scene with the New York Red Bulls aged just 16, Jozy Altidore has experienced a career of ups and downs. Before joining Toronto FC, his ups included his spell in New York and a two-year stint with AZ Alkmaar in Holland where he scored 39 league goals in 67 starts. The downs were an injury-hit spell with Villarreal in Spain which included three unsuccessful loan deals and a two-year stay in the English Premier League with Sunderland in which he managed just one league goal in 42 appearances.
Despite reports of a confidence crisis, he never stopped doubting his ability and scored a brace on his debut for the Reds, away to rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. Since then, he hasn’t looked back, scoring 72 times for the Canadian team, winning two MLS Cups and making the playoffs on three occasions. He is a two-time MLS All-Star and was the 2017 MLS Cup MVP and has made 115 appearances for the USA national team.
Other players who deserve a mention are goalkeeper Alex Bono, attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and midfielder pair Marky Delgado and Jonathan Osorio. These are amongst the many names who have helped to elevate the status of Toronto FC as a force in MLS and Canadian sports.