After a record-setting season in which the team captured an MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Canadian Championship, Toronto FC has set its sights on the cutthroat CONCACAF Champions League.
The team shared its 2018 aspirations with around 500 season-ticket holders at a launch party Friday morning.
In 2017, TFC claimed the first domestic treble in Major League Soccer (MLS) history — a league championship, domestic championship and regular season title — and TFC management say they are now aiming to establish the Reds as a full-fledged dynasty.
“We had a great season. How do we become a great franchise of all time?” said TFC president Bill Manning.
The goal, Manning told fans, is to surpass the dominant run of the LA Galaxy, which won three championships and appeared in four MLS Cups over a six year period starting in 2009.
TFC president Bill Manning is projecting this year’s team to be even better than last year’s record-setting squad. (Paul Smith/CBC)
Manning also believes the Reds could achieve something that even David Beckham and those Galaxy teams could not: win the CONCACAF Champions League, an annual competition that features the top teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
TFC ready to take on Mexico’s best
Only two MLS teams have ever won the Champions League, and Mexican clubs have won each of the last 12 tournaments. After last year’s success, Manning believes TFC has a legitimate chance to break that streak.
“We are as equipped as any MLS team ever to win this competition,” he said. “That’s the type of aspirations we have; we don’t want to sit back.”
In preparation, the team moved a portion of its pre-season training camp from its usual locations in Los Angeles and Orlando to high-altitude Mexico City.
The goal was to physically prepare players for possible matches against Mexico’s best in the thin air of many Mexican stadiums.
“When you look at the teams that have been successful … they’re well-prepared and they’re focused on that competition,” said TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko.
TFC opens its Champions League season on Feb. 20 with a home-and-home series against Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids.
If they advance, TFC could be heading for a semi-final showdown with seven-time Champions League winners and 12-time Mexican champions Club América.
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CBC | Soccer News