Yet Vanney has a simple reminder for his players as the Reds enter the final stages of preparations for a 2017 season in which they'll be among the title favorites: last year is long gone.
"You can't make up for losing the final last year just by winning it this year," Vanney told ESPN FC on Tuesday in a phone interview from Florida, where Toronto FC will play exhibitions against three MLS teams before opening the new campaign at Real Salt Lake on March 4.
"There's an entire season in front of us. I would've never bet in a million years that Columbus wasn't going to make the playoffs last year. They didn't get off to a great start and they never caught up after being a well-oiled machine the year before. So that's kind of my message to these guys. Yes, we want to win a championship but you can't win a championship in March and April. It's about getting better every day."
It makes sense that Vanney would want to use the Crew's failure to reach the postseason less than a year after dropping the 2015 MLS Cup to Portland as a warning -- the Timbers also missed the playoffs after winning it all. The domestic league's level of parity has a way of punishing harshly even the slightest hint of complacency. Talented teams fall short every year.