Toronto FC has long desired an attacking midfielder around whom a midfield can be built, and while the club has worked around the absence of a creative central figure by front-loading its lineup in recent years, the club finally announced the acquisition of a prototypical No. 10 in Victor Vazquez.
He and fellow newcomer Chris Mavinga should be expected to start in Greg Vanney's side, which underwent something of a transformation last season as the Reds traversed through the MLS postseason.
Here's how Toronto FC might line up next week in its opening match away at Real Salt Lake:
Vanney's preferred 3-5-2 formation sees Vazquez slot into the No. 10 role, with Michael Bradley and Armando Cooper behind him in midfield in supporting roles; Bradley will take on the brunt of the defensive responsibility, as usual, while Cooper will join in on the attack on the right flank.
With Steven Beitashour less likely to bomb down the wing than his left-sided teammate Justin Morrow, Cooper would slot in well, but concerns of being exposed in midfield could be brought up; if Vanney prefers defensive rigidity, then Benoit Cheyrou could step in for Cooper.
Should Toronto FC feel confident in its control of a match, the team could attempt an attack-heavy 3-5-2 that features a pair of out-and-out attacking midfielders in Vazquez and one of Cooper or Jonathan Osorio, with Bradley in support as a pure defensive midfielder.
In this formation, Morrow and Beitashour would be made to drop back a little further, as the attacking impetus would fall on Cooper and Vazquez, with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco doing work to split defenders with their own movement patterns and runs up top.
Vanney's preference for a 3-5-2 only came about during the late stages of the 2016 MLS campaign, but for a long time the team preferred to utilise a more traditional 4-4-2 formation. Vazquez gives Vanney a point-man in his midfield diamond, and both Osorio and Cooper find playing space at the expense of Eriq Zavaleta in the back four.
Of course, in this formation, Morrow would essentially be limited in his attacking runs, a trade-off needed to maintain a strong defensive shape; it would be a shame to reduce Morrow's role to that of an out-and-out defender, as the 29-year-old scored five goals last year by bombarding down the left.