Toronto FC have returned home from their warm-weather training, before starting their season on Tuesday

Toronto FC left the Californian sunshine on Wednesday, for their wintry home and final preparations for the new MLS season.

TFC head coach Greg Vanney said: “The guys have worked hard despite everything that’s transpired. Focus-wise they have been fantastic.”

Toronto open with their home leg of the CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 game on Feb. 19. Their opponents are Club Atletico Independiente de La Chorrera. The return leg is Feb. 26 at BMO Field.

The club kick off the MLS regular season on March 2 in Philadelphia.

As the hunt for new attackers to replace Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez continues. Vanney has been hard at work refining what he has in camp. Expect a different-looking TFC this season. With more attacks coming down the wings.

TFC have been playing a 4-3-3. With two attacking midfielders behind the center-forward.

Toronto has been linked with KRC Genk playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo. The 27-year-old Spaniard is a possible designated player target. Argentine striker Jonathan (Jony) Menendez from Independiente of Argentina, has also been linked with a loan move.

Giovinco (Al-Hilal FC) and Vazquez (Al-Arabi SC) have already departed for Saudi Arabia and Qatar, respectively. Dutch defender Gregory van der Wiel was sent home after an altercation with Vanney and is awaiting a move elsewhere. Defender Nick Hagglund went home in a deal with FC Cincinnati. While backup ‘keeper Clint Irwin is back with Colorado.

Newcomers for TFC include forward Terrence Boyd, winger Nick DeLeon, defender Laurent Ciman and midfielder Griffin Dorsey. The latter was Toronto’s first-round draft pick.

TFC 2 winger Jacob Shaffelburg has impressed during the training camp. With Vanney a fan of his speed, aggression, and fearlessness.

“Nothing has really fazed him,” he said. “We’ll be patient with him but at the same time he’s shown a capacity that is unique.”

During pre-season, TFC has a victory over UC-Irvine (4-0), but have lost 3-1 to Los Angeles FC and 5-1 to the USL Las Vegas Lights. Before split squads drew 1-1 with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Orange County SC.

Toronto wrapped up play in California. Drawing 0-0 with Club Tijuana. Before going on to beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0.

An earlier game against Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe was canceled due to poor weather.

Camp has not been perfect with captain Michael Bradley, midfielder Marky Delgado, and goalkeeper Alex Bono spending time with the U.S national team. While midfielder Jonathan Osorio (hernia) and striker Jozy Altidore (ankle) are working their way back from injuries.

Osorio has seen some pre-season action and Vanney expects him to be ready for Champions League action. Altidore, while further along than expected, has yet to play meaningful minutes.

Toronto can draw on a 35-man roster for the Champions League. Meaning there are spots open to register any new acquisitions during the tournament.

After winning the Canadian Championship, Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2017 with a then-record points total. Toronto made the final of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League and retained the Voyageurs Cup as Canadian champion. However, TFC slumped to 19th in the league with a 10-18-6 record.

Peace,

Burke

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