TFC Republic Weekly: January 24-30 lookahead
Pre-season camp continues in California as Toronto FC is expected to make more roster moves this week.
Welcome to the latest edition of TFC Republic Weekly, a free email newsletter that will land in the inbox of both paid subscribers and free members of TFC Republic every Monday.
This newsletter will look at what's in store over the next seven days for Toronto FC, and set up their schedule of games for the week.
You'll also get a glimpse of what to expect at TFC Republic in the coming days.
So, without further ado...
TFC training camp rolls on in California
Pre-season camp enters its second week as Toronto FC continues to train in sunny California under new coach Bob Bradley's watchful eye.
With the start of the season a little more than a month away, the TFC roster very much remains a work in progress. Last week, Toronto traded Mark Delgado to the LA Galaxy, in addition to re-signing Ayo Akinola, and adding Canadians Deandre Kerr and Greg Ranjitsingh.
Bradley hinted that the work in reshaping the roster might not be entirely completed before the start of the regular season. Toronto opens its 2022 MLS campaign away to FC Dallas on Feb. 26.
“I think throughout the last couple of months it's been clear that there's a lot of work that will go into building the roster over the next month or even months,” Bradley told reporters last Friday.
He also declined to comment when asked about the status of both Jozy Altidore and Yeferson Soteldo. The club is actively trying to move both Designated Players.
Bradley did confirm that Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, the team's other DP, is with the team in California. He also said that a number of trialists are in camp with the team at the moment, but didn’t reveal any names.
Also on the positive side, youngster Ralph Priso, who missed most of 2021 due to injury, is training with the team in California. Priso, a 19-year-old Toronto native, emerged as one of the club’s top young prospects last season as he routinely partnered Michael Bradley in the heart of midfield. But the teenager’s campaign was derailed when he suffered an ankle injury against the New England Revolution on Aug. 14 that ruled him out for the rest of the year.
“Ralph has made progress; he’s been working with the medical staff and we’ll have to monitor him as we go through this first part of pre-season. But it was great to see him on the field today,” Bradley said.
Here is the Reds' pre-season match schedule:
- Jan. 29 - vs. LA Galaxy in Carson, California.
- Feb. 2 - vs. LAFC in Irvine, California.
- Feb. 9 - vs. Austin in Austin, Texas.
- Feb. 12 - vs. Chicago in Austin, Texas.
- Feb. 16 - vs. Houston in Austin, Texas.
- Feb. 19 - vs. Kansas City in Austin, Texas.
TFC signs MacNaughton, loans out Singh
A source tells TFC Republic that Canadian defender Lukas MacNaughton will sign a multi-year deal with Toronto FC following a move from Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League. The transfer fee is believed to be in the neighbourhood of $175,000.
As part of the deal, TFC will send Canadian defender Luke Sign on loan to Pacific for the 2022 CPL season.
The same source told TFC Republic that an official announcement is expected this week, and could come as soon as Monday.
MacNaughton, 26, has been considered one of the best centre backs in the CPL over the past three seasons, and was a key figure in helping Pacific win the North Star Shield and reach the semifinals of the Canadian Championship in 2021.
Born in New York and raised in Belgium, MacNaughton moved to Canada to attend the University of Toronto, and later played in League1 Ontario.
Last year, MacNaughton made 29 appearances for Pacific, racking up a team-high 2,610 minutes in all competitions, with two goals and an assist. He finished first in the league in aerial duels won and fourth in interceptions, while helping the Tridents record eight clean sheets, including a 1-0 road victory over Forge FC in the CPL final.
I'll have a full breakdown of this deal and what it means for TFC, and for MacNaughton and Singh, later this week.
CanMNT vs. Honduras & United States in World Cup qualifying
After a bit of a hiatus, the Canadian men's team returns to action this week with a pair of crucial Concacaf World Cup qualifying matches.
First, the Reds travel to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras on Thursday before returning home to host the United States on Sunday at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field. After those two games, Canada plays away to El Salvador on Feb. 2.
Canada currently tops the table in the final round of the Concacaf qualifiers with a 4-0-4 record, and enjoy a two-point advantage over fourth-place Panama with six games remaining. The U.S. is in second place, one point behind Canada. Honduras sits in last place, 13 points adrift of the Canadians. The top three nations in the eight-team group automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Notably, Alphonso Davies has been ruled out for this international window due to a heart condition. The loss of the Bayern Munich star is a blow for the Canadians, but it's not exactly a nail in the coffin, either.
Canada looked very strong at last summer's Concacaf Gold Cup without Davies due to a torn ligament in his ankle, advancing to the semifinals of the biennial competition for the first time since 2007. Davies picked up a knee injury in Canada's 1-1 road draw against the United States last September. Three days later against El Salvador, Canada rolled to a 3-0 win in Toronto while Davies was back in Germany recuperating.
"Canada has successfully navigated international windows without Davies, so they've done it before, and I think they're in a position to do it again," former Canadian midfielder Terry Dunfield told TFC Republic.
RELATED READING: TFC Republic newsletter || Feature stories || Match reports || Opinion pieces || Q&As || Video blogs || News
Stories to look out for at TFC Republic
I recently chatted with former Canadian defender David Edgar to get his thoughts on the current state of the men's team as it prepares for what is an incredibly important international window. Currently an assistant coach with Forge FC in the CPL, Edgar shared some interesting insight on John Herdman's side as it gets set to travel to Honduras. Look for my feature story later this week.
Other stories that will be published later this week include:
- A feature looking at where Toronto FC's roster stands at the moment.
- My in-depth breakdown of TFC's signing of Lukas MacNaughton and loaning out of Luke Singh, and what the deal means for both players and the Reds.
- A breakdown of the latest Canadian men's team roster.
- A look back at Canada's infamous 8-1 loss to Honduras during the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
- In-depth pre- and post-game coverage of Canada's World Cup qualifying matches vs. Honduras on Thursday and the United States on Sunday.
- And much more!
TFC Republic mailbag
TFC Republic will feature a regular reader mailbag column where I answer questions from subscribers about Toronto FC and Canadian soccer in general.
I'll answer the best questions submitted to me by TFC Republic readers, so feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com. You can also reach out to me via Twitter and Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of torontofc.ca)
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