I know. I know. It still hurts.

That sick, disgusting feeling will never go away. Just lessen, but never go away.

It was ours.

That cold night back in December. Forever, frozen in time.

It was ours. Stolen. The definition of the perfect smash and grab.

They say time heals all wounds. But the scars will be permanent.

Case closed. Never to be mentioned again.

In the shortest offseason in the club’s history, Toronto FC have reconvened for pre-season training. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. For the first time in everyone’s memory, TFC is going to enter a season with minimal turnover. Other than the departures of Will Johnson, Josh Williams, Mark Bloom, and Daniel Lovitz, all of whom were squad players by the way, the team is going to remain fairly intact. No new coach. No new fancy sales pitch. No chaos. This is the new normal.

But with normalcy comes new problems. General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko has done yeoman’s work constructing a roster that has depth. A very deep one by MLS standards. A roster that is close to having a natural replacement at every position. A roster that has many Canadians. Many young Canadians, who made important contributions in 2016. And all of them might get called into Canada’s National Team for the Gold Cup. Uh oh.

The Gold Cup presents a unique set of problems. Luckily, TFC never really have to worry about these problems when the World Cup blazes on to the scene every four years. But that is a whole other story for another day.

This roster, as currently built, has many CONCACAF players who will be representing their countries during this summer’s Gold Cup (July 7-26), North American soccer’s flagship international tournament. Given MLS’s awkward relationship with the FIFA calendar, there will be a minimal break in the league’s schedule to allow for players to represent their national teams. MLS will continue business as usual during most of the tournament, which will leave many clubs shorthanded. This too, is another story for another day.

Hence TFC’s conundrum.

It is common knowledge that Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore will be missing, considering they are both integral pieces to the United States and Bruce Arena. Now we must also consider Armando Cooper playing for Panama. Canada’s eternal automatic qualification for this tournament (big thanks to Holger’s Heroes in the 2000 edition) will bleed Jonathan Osorio (sorry Floro) and Tosaint Ricketts from the roster as well. Quite the gut punch. But at least we have acquired depth right? Uh oh.

There is also the possibility that some combination of Ashtone Morgan, Jay Chapman, and Jordan Hamilton receive call ups too. A Canadian roster with a new coach and a new philosophy might increase this probability. If this comes to fruition, TFC’s depth will surely be put to the test.

Will Tsubasa Endoh improve upon his rookie campaign and make greater contributions? Will the continued maturation of Marky Delgado and his versatility fill some of the holes? Can the battle hardened, grizzled, but silky veteran Benoit Cheyrou continue to play at the level fans have become accustomed to? Will the reliable back line, including the latest addition of Chris Mavinga, be able to hold the fort? Can Seba keep being Seba? All of this remains crucial but uncertain.

What is certain is that there is a storm far off on the horizon. How well TFC is able to weather it will be a key indicator as to how they enter the stretch run.

There is an old Norwegian saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, as long as you’re dressed properly.”

It finally appears that TFC’s storm suits are made from the proper material.

This was fun. Hopefully you thought so too. Feel free to drop a comment or question and tell me what you think!

William Jamieson