Over the last five years, Toronto FC have been one of the most successful teams in Major League Soccer (MLS). They were crowned champions in 2017, while they also reached the MLS Cup final in 2016 and 2019.
Toronto only joined the MLS in 2007, at the time becoming the first Canadian-based franchise in the US league. It took them a while to become competitive as they did not reach the play-offs until 2015. Now they are considered to be one of the best teams in North America.
A lot of their success has been down to their former head coach Greg Vanney. In 2017, he oversaw their treble-winning season where they prevailed in the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship.
The former United States head coach really helped the franchise progress on the field. He was able to attract some talented players and his experience proved invaluable when it came to the off-season in the competition.
Vanney left Toronto last December and is now the head coach of LA Galaxy. His legacy will be remembered for a long time at BMO Field. Fans of the Reds will be hoping new manager Chris Armas can build upon that in 2021 and beyond.
You only have to look at the current roster of players Toronto have in 2021 to see how far they have progressed. They have players from Spain, Brazil, Nigeria and Japan representing the franchise. Alejandro Pozuelo was named the league’s MVP last year after scoring nine goals and providing 10 assists.
Given how popular the big four US leagues (NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB) are in Canada, there is a lot of competition for MLS and football. However, a recent study has shown that 76% of the population in the country follow sport, which is much higher than America and the UK. This means there is a wide audience in the country which could be open to football.
The biggest two sports in Canada have traditionally been ice hockey and lacrosse. Toronto’s record-setting year in 2017 has really helped football edge the gap towards those sports in the country. Since then, their average attendance has been over 25,000, much higher than when they entered the league in 2007.
At international level, Canada are renowned for having a very successful women’s football team. Their men’s team are ranked much lower in the FIFA world rankings, however, it is worth pointing out that they are on the up with some young talented players.
MLS is very open to expansion teams in their league. In 2019, Inter Miami were the latest club to join. With football becoming more popular in Canada, we could see more franchises from the country join Toronto in the competition.
Canada will joint-host the 2026 World Cup along with the United States and Mexico. The tournament should help the sport progress further, particularly if Les Rouges qualify or are given an automatic spot at the finals.
Toronto will be hoping to continue their excellent record in the MLS in 2021. The new campaign begins on the 3rd April and the Canadian franchise will be one of the teams which will be fancied to lift the MLS Cup on the 11th December.