Toronto FC announced today that Chris Armas has been named the 10th head coach in club history.
“I could not be more excited to join a club with Toronto FC’s level of excellence and winning tradition and I will work tirelessly to uphold those standards,” said Toronto FC Head Coach Chris Armas. “I’m grateful to Mr. Tanenbaum and to Bill Manning and Ali Curtis for their belief in me and for giving me this opportunity. As an opposing coach I felt the passion the fans and supporters bring to BMO Field. It is next level. I can’t wait to put a team on the field that will not only make them proud with the way we play, but also with the way we run, battle and compete every minute of every game.”
Armas, 48, joins Toronto FC after most recently serving as the head coach of the New York Red Bulls. Armas took over the Red Bulls on July 6, 2018 and finished that season with a record of 12-3-3, leading the Red Bulls to the 2018 Supporters’ Shield and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals. He departed the Red Bulls on September 4, 2020 with a record of 33-27-11 in all competitions while his teams averaged 1.61 points per game, (7th best all-time, minimum 50 MLS games managed). Armas originally served as an assistant coach under Jesse Marsch from 2015 until he took over head coaching duties following Marsch’s departure. In Marsch and Armas’ first season with the Red Bulls, the club won the 2015 Supporters’ Shield.
“Chris has an excellent winning pedigree and is a fiery, competitive guy who wants his teams to play on the front foot. He is the right fit to build upon the foundation that’s been established at TFC,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “Our fans are going to love his intensity and how that’s going to translate into our team’s style of play for years to come.”
As a player, Armas is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS history. He played 12 years in the league, two with the LA Galaxy and 10 with the Chicago Fire. With the expansion Fire in 1998, Armas was a linchpin as Chicago won the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double in their first season. During his decade long run in Chicago, Armas was a part of teams that won an MLS Cup (1998), the 2003 Supporters’ Shield and four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006).
Armas is one of only five players in league history to have been named to the MLS Best XI five times (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003). He was a six-time MLS All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004) and was named the 2003 MLS Comeback Player of the Year. Armas earned 66 caps for the U.S. National Team and won two Concacaf Gold Cups (2002, 2005). He was named U.S. Soccer’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2000.
“During my career, I have been fortunate to have had the experience of interacting with football professionals both domestic and abroad. The integrity, authenticity, and professionalism that Chris possesses is unmatched when I think of professionals in the game. Having gone through this process before, I know that Chris will be an excellent coach for the club. While I have known Chris over the years, during the interview process, he conveyed perspective, vision, and coaching qualities, which solidified our belief in him as the top candidate,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “I am excited about his intensity, passion, tactics, and way of teaching. The resources and support that we will provide to Chris will be different than his previous roles, which we know will be beneficial to his vision and our success. There has never been a moment in the history of sports like we are in now. We are a team that strives to win championships, and Chris is the ideal coach to lead us now, and in the future.”
Armas’ coaching staff will be announced at a later date.
ALEJANDRO POZUELO NAMED 2020 LANDON DONOVAN MLS MVP
Major League Soccer (MLS) announced today that Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo has been named the 2020 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player.
“I am honoured to be named MLS MVP,” said Pozuelo. “I want to thank my teammates and our coaching staff as this individual award shows we had a very good season. I am happy to be able to celebrate this award with my wife, my kids and all my friends here in Spain.”
Pozuelo, 29, becomes the second player in Toronto FC history to be named the league’s MVP, following Sebastian Giovinco who won the award in 2015. This season, Pozuelo scored 9 goals and added 10 assists, leading the league in combined goals and assists. He also led MLS in chances created (70) and game-winning goals (5) while becoming the first player in TFC history to start in every regular season match in a season. Toronto FC posted a record of 9-1-4 when Pozuelo scored and/or had an assist this season.
“Congratulations to Alejandro on being awarded the highest of honours in MLS,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “Since joining our club in 2019 Alejandro’s contributions on the field and in the locker room have been incredible. This year he emerged as one of our leaders and was the chief catalyst as our team finished with the second-highest points per game in the league. This is a well-deserved MVP award for Alejandro.”
Pozuelo was named the MLS Player of the Month for September, as he scored four goals and added two assists across six matches. In addition, Pozuelo was named to the MLS Team of the Week on five occasions (MLS is Back Round 1, Round 2, Week 6, Week 7 & 8 combined, Week 15). Last month, Pozuelo was named to his second consecutive MLS Best XI (2019, 2020), becoming the third player in club history to be named to the Best XI on multiple occasions.
“Poz had a great season, and we are very happy that he is receiving this award,” said Toronto FC General Manager Ali Curtis. “We also believe that while the MVP is given to one, it is an award that is reflective of the group. This year was challenging in so many ways, but Poz is a competitor, he’s passionate about the game, and he is more than deserving of this award.”
Signed as a Designated Player on March 4, 2019, Pozuelo has made 61 appearances for Toronto FC, scoring 23 goals and 25 assists, in all competitions. In addition, Pozuelo converted 11 of 12 penalty kicks over the course of the past two seasons.
NASHVILLE SC (1) – TORONTO FC (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY
NSH – Daniel Rios 108’
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro (Tony Gallacher 101’), Omar Gonzalez (Liam Fraser 111’), Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea (Erickson Gallardo 112’); Michael Bradley (C), Jonathan Osorio, Nick DeLeon (Ayo Akinola 62’), Pablo Piatti (Ralph Priso 101’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Jozy Altidore (Patrick Mullins 82’)
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Laurent Ciman, Eriq Zavaleta
NASHVILLE SC – Joe Willis; Alistair Johnson, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Daniel Lovitz; Dax McCarty (C), Brian Anunga (Derrick Jones 105’ +1), Randal Leal (Jalil Anibaba 118’), Hany Mukhtar (Matt LaGrassa 111’), Alex Muyl (Taylor Washington 105’+1); Jhonder Cadiz (Daniel Rios 71’)
Substitutes Not Used: Elliot Panicco, Eric Miller, Dominique Badji, Handwalla Bwana
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
How did you see that one play out?
“We got a little bit of what we anticipated. Which was a well-organized defensive team who’s committed to keeping their lines nice and tight. And they were good in the transition, especially when we turned over balls in between our lines. They’re a well-organized team, they’re good, they have a lot of experience, MLS experience in their group, and they stayed nice and disciplined through the course of the match and they were committed to making the spaces nice and tight and they broke out fast in the transitions. They had the big fella up top who won almost every single ball they played forward and was able to keep attacks alive, connect people and move them into our half of the field. So that kind of set a little bit of the up and down tempo of the game. I felt our biggest challenge on the night was everything was too slow. Against a team that is so committed to recovering back behind the ball, whenever we broke lines and were in good spots to put the pass in between the lines we didn’t attack the next line fast enough. It was too slow. We were sometimes looking for passes that weren’t quite there. We needed to receive with the idea of driving at the next line, to create the next two vs. one, or the next attacking scenario. Because if you don’t do that fast enough, that little edge when you get to another line, that little edge against a team like them, they just recover back under the ball and they make it very difficult for you to create chances. Then when we got into wide areas, we didn’t get service to where we needed it. Sometimes we didn’t have the right numbers in the box. But having said that we had a couple of good chances early, where maybe if we get one. Nick had one. Maybe one other. If we get that one, maybe we settle in and aren’t as stretched out. Just in general, I think the game was too slow. When we got into our set possessions too many numbers were pushing high, which meant that when we turned over the ball, there was too much space between our front attacking group and our back-defending group, which is where balls were falling into. They were getting out quickly and linking off the big fella up top, which made the game very vertical. And we extended a lot of energy in recovery defending and that started to gas us out during the course of the game. So, again, credit to them. They stayed organized and we didn’t do enough on our side to punish them.
What was your message to your team after the game?
“I haven’t spoken to them yet. For our guys, a lot of them have been around for a long time. They want to take a few minutes to themselves. And we’ll speak when we get back to the hotel and get together as a group. We’ll get there. I went to each guy individually, but I haven’t addressed the group. Right now, each is processing the game themselves and I respect that. I’ll let them have that space for now.”
Do you think fatigue set in the last few games?
“Yeah, here’s what I think. Our guys put in an incredible shift in over the course of the body of work of the regular season. Pushing in the end, things caught up with us a little bit. Some of what you would call our top players, our guys who are difference makers, our guys who are important to us in getting results in big games were in and out with injuries, starting to come back in the tail end of the season and I felt we lacked a little bit of fitness, we lacked a little bit of sharpness, a little bit of continuity at times. Tonight, that might have been part of why we were a little bit slow in some of our actions and didn’t connect as fast as we normally would. Some of that fluid combination play just wasn’t as sharp. So, I think we hit the tail end not firing on all cylinders. A little bit of that was guys being in and out and a little bit of the season catching up with us. That’s possible. In the end the guys had the right attitude. Tonight, they wanted to come out and try to take the game. They knew what the challenge was in front of them. We just didn’t execute, and we didn’t execute at speed. That’s football sometimes. Our guys have put in an incredible year, have sacrificed, it’s well-documented, to get to where they are, have the season they had. I feel for them. We just didn’t do enough tonight to win the game.”
MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
How do you evaluate what of course didn’t quite click as you were hoping tonight?
“Obviously, by and large had decent control of the game. But we weren’t able to really put them on their heels consistently enough, we weren’t able to really create situations of wave after wave of really being dangerous. Look, they’re defensively a good team, a team that understands who they are, what they’re about and they don’t give away a ton of goals and they don’t give away a ton of chances. But having said that, we were able to create a few big ones and when you’re not able to take advantage, when you’re not able to score then they can continue to believe in what they’re doing and the game hangs in the balance and obviously then it turns into a game of who’s going to make a play first. Frustrating, disappointing but that’s football sometimes.”
What do you say as a leader to your teammates as this one finishes?
“It’s never easy right after a game, right after a game that ends your season. Over the next few hours, over the next day or two we’ll find the right ways to end this season and have the right discussions, talk through things, make sure that we’re all on the same page. But again, it’s never easy in a moment like this when you lose a game like that to end your season.”
What is your evaluation of the circumstances this club has dealt with all season?
“2020 has been a really difficult year for everybody, everybody in the world. It doesn’t matter what you do, where you live, it’s been a year filled with unprecedented challenges and so we tried to not ever use any of it as an excuse, so we’re not going to start now.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS (2) – TORONTO FC (1) POST MATCH SUMMARY
NYRB – Tom Barlow 24’
NYRB – Brian White 26’ (Kyle Duncan, Sean Davis)
TFC – Tsubasa Endoh 50’
NYRB – Dru Yearwood 15’ (caution)
TFC – Chris Mavinga 22’ (caution)
NYRB – Jared Stroud 32’ (caution)
NYRB – Ryan Meara 85’ (caution)
TFC – Jayden Nelson 90’+4 (caution)
TORONTO FC: 13-5-5 44 PTS.
NEW YORK RED BULLS: 9-9-5 32 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro, Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea (Tony Gallacher 41’); Michael Bradley (C), Jonathan Osorio (Ralph Priso HT’), Nick DeLeon (Jayden Nelson 76’), Tsubasa Endoh (Jozy Altidore 57’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Ayo Akinola
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Silva, Eriq Zavaleta, Laurent Ciman, Liam Fraser, Patrick Mullins
NY RED BULLS – Ryan Meara; Kyle Duncan, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Jason Pendant; Dru Yearwood (Amro Tarek 78’), Florian Valot (Caden Clark 90’+2), Tom Barlow (Mandela Egbo 78’), Sean Davis (C), Jared Stroud (Cristian Casseres Jr. 63’); Brian White (Daniel Royer 63’)
Substitutes Not Used: David Jensen, Marc Rzatkowski, Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Samuel Tetteh
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Can you just comment on what this team has gone through this season and the fact that it managed to be in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield down to the final minutes…
“It has been a journey and I appreciate the question. I think these guys, as I said to them today before the game, I’m extremely proud of the way they have handled this season. It’s been a challenging year and in many ways for everybody around the world but just as it relates to our team, the challenges of Orlando and trying to get ourselves restarted. Coming back from Orlando and being quarantined for 14 days and having to get started up again and then move away from home. And our guys, every single day came out to training and didn’t complain, didn’t moan. They just got to work. They found ways to support each other and to get on with it. We dealt with some injuries, but just managed to put it out there every single day. There are a couple performances, of course, we’d love to have back along the way. But the mentality and the commitment to trying to make the most out of this season, not complaining about stuff, just getting on with it and working every single day, being there for each other, it’s been incredible. There are only two other teams in the league who have any understanding of what we went through as a group. And both of those teams were battling today just to get into the playoffs, and we were battling to try to win a Supporters’ Shield. So, they know how difficult it is. We know how difficult it is. I’m so proud of our guys for being there till the end. With that being said, we are going to be laser-focused on trying to win the MLS Cup. We’ll try to get healthy here in this little stretch of a couple weeks. I thought the second half today was just a better response. We have to recognize sometimes, especially around playoff time, when you play these teams that really want to press high, that the game can’t always look as pretty as we want it to look. Sometimes we have to just turn them and put them on their heels and bully them back in and move the game into their half the field and play territory. And then we can settle down and play. We created some chances in the second half to equalize and I thought the guys fought to the bitter end. We weren’t going to come away with the shield today as Philly did their job and won their game, but our guys fought to the end and I’m proud of them.”
Can you talk about the second half and the team’s mentality heading into the playoffs and comment on the injuries with Jonathan Osorio and Richie Laryea?
“I thought the response was great. Again, it’s a reminder as we get into this time of year, as we’re getting guys back, and we’re getting whole as a group, against some of these teams in the Eastern Conference, you really want to be on the front foot and press. And it’s not so much about what they do with the ball it’s what they do without the ball. So, it’s a reminder that we can be aggressive, and we can play on the front foot, and we can turn teams and we can play more aggressively. And it’s not always because we have to play through them with 15 passes or 20 passes. Sometimes it’s just playing the game a little bit. And fighting back and fighting for space and then turning the game on its heels and earning the right to then play. And I didn’t think we did that the first half. We didn’t really earn the right to play. We kept trying to play but we hadn’t created the space we hadn’t shown them that we could threaten them on a consistent basis, enough to back them up. And we didn’t put the pressure on them the way we did in the second half. And I do think that even though it was 2-0, I think we could have made the first half look more like the second half had we been more committed to that and been willing sometimes to just lose balls playing forward if they didn’t connect but be able to work off of those passes. Too many of our moments were where balls lost between our lines that then came right back at us. And we don’t gain any momentum in that. So, there are some things that we take out of this game and we build on over the next couple weeks … in which we train and prepare for the playoffs. As it relates to the injuries, Oso was more precautionary. He obviously has been out for a couple weeks. We were set to play him 45 and then see where he was at the end of 45. At 2-0 he was feeling okay to go back on and we just decided that we wouldn’t. And it’s a good thing. Richie felt a little bit of a groin twinge, pull. I don’t think it’s anything serious but when he noticed that he tried to keep going but realized that it probably would be smart and take himself out. So, we’ll treat him and manage him and see where he’s at. But I think he’ll be alright. Groins aren’t as bad as hamstrings and quads so hopefully he will be ready to go.”
MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Thoughts on the year?
“It’s been an exercise for everybody, learning how to deal with things right? Nobody would of predicted so much that’s gone on this year and so you can spend all your time worrying about things that aren’t perfect or aren’t the way they used to be or you can just try to find the right ways to move on and to still push forward. It’s been that type of year. I think, for me personally, as a team, as a club we’ve tried to get rid of all the excuses, come every day ready to enjoy what we do. When you look at everything going on all around the world, we are very lucky to be able to do what we love, to play football, to train, to compete, to play games and so yeah, look it’s a year where if you wanted to you could find something to complain about every day but we’ve really tried hard not to do that. We’re excited now for the next few weeks and the playoffs and we’re going to see if we can really be ready to raise our level as the really important games come.”
Are you encouraged by the good moments as you get ready for the post season?
“Yeah very. It’s been a weird stretch over the last few weeks. As you’ve said, not every result has been perfect but still when you look at getting more and more guys back healthy, even on some of these days when maybe the result hasn’t gone our way, for sure there are things that we look at that need to be better. But there’s also been good stretches of some of these games, where we’re pleased with what things have looked like. We’re trying to do a lot of different things at once, we’re trying to get guys who have been injured back, sharp and fit and going. We’re trying to still win games and we’re still trying to understand that as we get ready for the playoffs, making sure we understand the type of team we need to be, the way we need to play that is going to give us the best chance.”
TORONTO FC (2) – INTER MIAMI CF (1) POST MATCH SUMMARY
IMCF – Blaise Matuidi 42’
TFC – Ayo Akinola 55’ (Patrick Mullins, Michael Bradley)
TFC – Alejandro Pozuelo 84’ (PK)
IMCF – Blaise Matuidi 69’ (caution)
TFC – Michael Bradley 77’ (caution)
IMCF – Ben Sweat 82’ (caution)
Ralph Priso made his first career start for Toronto FC
TORONTO FC: 13-4-5 44 PTS.
INTER MIAMI CF: 6-13-3 21 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro (Richie Laryea 72’), Eriq Zavaleta, Chris Mavinga, Tony Gallacher; Michael Bradley (C), Ralph Priso (Liam Fraser 73’), Nick DeLeon (Omar Gonzalez 88’), Tsubasa Endoh (Patrick Mullins HT’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Ayo Akinola (Jayden Nelson 85’)
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Silva, Laurent Ciman, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
INTER MIAMI CF – John McCarthy; Alvas Powell, Christian Makoun (Julian Carranza 85’), Dylan Nealis (Federico Higuain 85’), A.J. DeLaGarza, Ben Sweat (Matias Pellegrini 85’); Blaise Matuidi, Wil Trapp (Victor Ulloa 85’), Lewis Morgan, Rodolfo Pizarro; Gonzalo Higuain (C)
Substitutes Not Used: Drake Callender, Mikey Ambrose, Jay Chapman, Juan Agudelo, Robbie Robinson
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Good win against a well-organized opponent. What was your take on the evening?
“Yeah, they were in a 4-5-1. Especially in the first half, they had a lot of numbers behind the ball. For us the possessions were too slow. The movement was too methodical, too slow, the ball was moving too slow. Those were the things we talked about at half. We need to be more dynamic, our decisions need to be faster, the ball needed to move faster. Everything was too slow in the first half and because of that none of our attacks really came to much of anything. And we were turning over balls just by sheer numbers they had behind the ball. Spaces were closing up too fast and they were able to eventually get themselves into the game through our turnovers. They started to find their possession. Started to find their control of the game with the ball through the latter part of the first half. Second half, we brought on another forward to occupy more of those center backs, try to tuck in our wide guys a little bit more, to put some numbers ahead of the ball. We started to get a little bit more control of the game. Our movement was sharper, the passes were sharper. It still got open at times, but we did enough at the end of the day to get it a result. And with everything that transpired today, Philly losing, us getting a result. Means it goes down to the last game. That’s what we were hoping for.”
Is this what you envisioned when you made Richie a right back, him creating so much trouble for opposing defenses?
“I don’t know if that’s what I was envisioning. You assess his skill set and, what he’s capable of doing, with the fact that we had a need for a right back in addition to Auro. We didn’t really have anybody else to fill the position and so the combination of those things, the necessity and the skill set, starts to put him in that position and he just he’s taken to it. He’s grown with it and it amplifies his skill set. His speed, his quickness, his ability to face people up and go one on one. Week after week, game after game, he’s a menace for defenders, especially when he gets right around that box. His first step is so quick, he’s gone before guys even react to him touching the ball. He continues to grow in the position. Tonight, we chose to bring him on a little late. We were managing his minutes a little because he’s been carrying little things and we’re trying to protect him. Luckily we got him on in time for him to do his thing.”
What did you think of Ralph Priso?
“I thought he was excellent. Like everybody in the first half, the tempo of his game and everybody’s game just needed to get a little bit sharper and a little bit faster. But I thought that was a collective problem not just an individual problem. In the second half, the ball started moving quicker and more purposefully, and I thought he was excellent. I thought he covered a lot of ground, he won balls back, he was sharp in his possession to get in and out of spaces. I thought he was great, I mean for his first start in MLS, that’s a that’s a hell of a way to start. But he’s got room to continue to grow which he will, and he’ll continue to get play faster and get used up all the stuff, but I thought it was excellent.”
With everything to play for on Decision Day, will you get some injured players back?
“I think so, if we put everybody in bubble wrap and we get to the next week, we should get a couple guys back. We’ll see. That’s our hope. We’ve tried to be cautious with a couple of guys. Hopefully those guys will be ready come next week.”
AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC
Can you talk us through the goal and what did you see when Patrick sent in the high ball?
“As soon as Pat played it in, it was a just a battle between me and the defender luckily I was able to get my arm around him to hold him off. The whole the goal was set-up for the first touch on my chest, I think that set-up the whole thing. It allowed me to control it really nice and bring it down again and slide it after.”
What does the performance say tonight about this group?
“Just the resilience from our group. Obviously the previous two matches didn’t go our way but at the same time our group is so deep, and we know we needed this win. It just shows you the battle and character we still have. I’m just happy and proud of this team to be able to carry out the win and now we move onto the last game of the season against Red Bulls.”
Your ninth goal of the season, what’s clicking for you and how big is the net looking for you?
“I think it’s just me keeping my style of game. I don’t try to do stuff that’s not normally in my favour or not the way I play, just sticking to how I play, obviously makes it simple for me and what I need to do in front of goal. To your second question, it’s not how big it is, I just try to find the corners, try to find the targets, try to find an area where it would be hard for the keeper to get. I think that’s just the key in finishing just try to hit it to an area where the keeper has a hard time getting to.”
NEW YORK CITY FC (1) – TORONTO FC (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY
NYCFC – Jesus Medina 51’
TFC – Justin Morrow 3’ (caution)
NYCFC – Alexander Callens 45’ +1 (caution)
NYCFC – Valentin Castellanos 75’ (caution)
NYCFC – Jesus Medina 90’+2 (caution)
TORONTO FC: 12-4-5 41 PTS.
NEW YORK CITY FC: 10-8-3 33 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Richie Laryea, Omar Gonzalez, Laurent Ciman, Tony Gallacher; Michael Bradley (C), Liam Fraser (Ralph Priso 76’), Justin Morrow (Jacob Shaffelburg 59’), Alejandro Pozuelo, Nick DeLeon (Jayden Nelson 82’); Patrick Mullins (Tsubasa Endoh 59’)
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Silva, Chris Mavinga, Eriq Zavaleta, Erickson Gallardo, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
NEW YORK CITY FC – Sean Johnson; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ronald Matarrita; Keaton Parks (Nicolas Acevedo 82’), Alexander Ring, Maximilian Moralez, Jesus Medina, Gary Mackay-Steven (Gudmundur Thorarinsson 72’); Valentin Castellanos (Sebastien Ibeagha 88’)
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Stuver, Luis Barraza, Joe Scally, Tony Rocha, Juan Torres, Justin Haak
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Can you assess the performance?
“It was going to be a challenging night, obviously. I’m not going to make anything about players who weren’t there, but we felt like we needed to come out tonight and try to manufacture some chances. I thought right at the start, Michael plays a ball forward to Pozuelo. We’ve got to turn to get a shot off there. I thought Justin had a couple chances in the first half. They had their chances. But I would say half to three quarters of their chances were actually delayed offside calls they either called or didn’t call, which changes the emotion of the game. Because they don’t actually blow the whistle sometimes, but the linesman’s lifting up the flag after the whole thing happens. So, it feels like you give away chances when some of those weren’t actually going to be chances anyways. But having said that, the first half the game was definitely wide open with them getting most of the ball. We were trying to get some pressure on the ball. When that part of the game was over, we needed to just find our shape and defend a little bit more connected. But we’re still trying to get pressure to the ball and getting pulled apart a little bit. We dealt with a lot of that stuff and got through the half. We reorganized a bit just in terms of our set defending. In general, I thought we found our way into the game as the game continued. We had fewer chances in the second half, but we started to gain a little bit more control of the game and start to play in possession a little bit more. But we were fighting against trying to have a good response from the last game, in which we didn’t get out and compete. I thought tonight we competed. I thought guys worked really hard, some of it effective, some of it not as effective as we’d like. But we created some chances we knew we would have to manufacture. We gave up some chances too, but we’ve got to execute on the one or two that we thought we were going to get. Tough opponent, tough situation, but I’m proud of at least the effort the guys put in and then the shift that they put in to try to get something out of the game.”
Is the Supporters Shield still something you guys are discussing?
“It is what it is. We are trying to gain points every single game. Guys who are having to step into spots are trying to step in and make the most of their opportunity. And we’re trying to win games against good teams. So, at least tonight … you know the other night, I thought just the speed of it, we never really got onto it. But tonight, I felt like we did. Points are always a product of being able to execute over the course of the game. So right now, we’re pretty thin, in terms of the guys who played the majority of the minutes for us over the course of the season. And now we’re in the tail stretch. The five in 15 took a toll on us for sure and, at this point it’s Do you continue to risk guys and lose guys? For the short term … anybody you lose at this point you’re probably going to lose for the playoffs. So, there’s always that as a Catch 22. We’re trying to work with our doctors. We are trying to work with everybody that’s involved to try to make the best decisions for our guys. So that is where we’re at. And so, the key for us is to try to take as many points as we can but also to try to get our team whole. Because when all the guys are together, we have seen that we’re capable of being the best team in the league. On any given day that’s been proven. So, the question is how do we get our team healthy without losing more guys in this last stretch. And if we can win the Supporters Shield in that process, then that’s what we’re going to try to do. We’re not giving up on it, but we are what we are right now is as a group. And we have what we have. All I’m asking from these guys right now is that they give everything they have to each one of these games. And we work hard to try to get the result we can get.”
Can you talk about the young players, Shaffelburg, Nelson and Priso, who came into the game?
“I’d love to. These are big games. With a lot riding on them. So just for their development and their experiences that they’re putting under their belt. Normally this time of year they probably wouldn’t be the second, third, fourth guys off the bench. But given the circumstances they are. And they came on and they were brave. They went after the game and tried to stay aggressive both with the ball and tried to help us defensively to recover the ball. Each one of these experiences is huge for them. These aren’t meaningless games. These are important games for their learning and they’re showing that they’re willing to get out there and compete and do a nice job for us. And they did. So that bodes well for their learning and their development and their future with the club.”
JAYDEN NELSON – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
What was is like getting more minutes tonight
“Well obviously it’s a tough loss. I just wanted to get out there and try to make a difference and get a goal or something, but it didn’t happen, we worked hard the entire game, we didn’t really get in our rhythm but it was a tough loss.”
It’s easy to get down on yourselves when results don’t go your way and when the year’s been as crazy as it’s been, but what’s the mood like?
“We’re a resilient group and we work hard in training every day. We’re defiantly going to bounce back from this, we’re not going to dwell on this loss, we still have two more games to go so that’s our main focus right now, we put this behind us and we’re ready for Miami and New York.”
It looks like you’re more comfortable out there after a few appearances…
“When I first started, I just wanted to gain more trust with the coach and I feel like I am and I just wanted to show more of my abilities and see what I can do for the team and show that to everyone, so I guess that’s what you’re seeing.”
PHILADELPHIA UNION (5) – TORONTO FC (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY
PHI – Sergio Santos 27’ (Kai Wagner)
PHI – Mark McKenzie 33’ (Kacper Przybylko, Jamiro Monteiro)
PHI – Jamiro Monteiro 56’ (Kacper Przybylko)
PHI – Sergio Santos 63’ (Kai Wagner)
PHI – Sergio Santos 68’ (Brenden Aaronson)
PHI – Jamiro Monteiro 9’ (caution)
TFC – Auro 10’ (caution)
PHI – Andre Blake 64’ (caution)
TFC – Patrick Mullins 73’ (caution)
TORONTO FC: 12-3-5 41 PTS.
PHILADELPHIA UNION: 12-3-5 41 PTS.
Ralph Priso and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty both made their Toronto FC and MLS debuts in tonight’s match, both coming on as substitutes
Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty becomes the youngest player in club history to play for Toronto FC
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Richie Laryea, Omar Gonzalez, Laurent Ciman, Auro (Justin Morrow HT’); Michael Bradley (C), Marky Delgado (Liam Fraser HT’), Nick DeLeon (Ralph Priso 64’); Tsubasa Endoh, Alejandro Pozuelo (Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty 72’), Erickson Gallardo (Patrick Mullins 35’)
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Silva, Tony Gallacher, Jayden Nelson, Jacob Shaffelburg
PHILADELPHIA – Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jakob Glesnes, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; Jose Martinez (Jack Elliott 74’), Alejandro Bedoya (C) (Ilsinho 82’), Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana 82’); Kacper Przybylko (Cory Burke 69’), Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten 69’)
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Olivier Mbaizo, Cole Turner
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
You’re missing some big names and playing a good team but tough one tonight, what went wrong, is this the kind of performance that you have words with your team?
“What went wrong, it was wrong from start to finish. We weren’t close to them the entire night really. We weren’t in good spots for each other, we weren’t clear in terms of the stepping out in how we were going to defend, we couldn’t put passes together and they were just at a different speed then we were that’s for sure. So, part of it is we need to put it behind us but part of it is we need to recognize and just a reminder at this time of the year you physically got to be out ready to compete and battle, fight for balls and win tackles and all of those things first and foremost and then you can play, you got to be strong when you’re holding up the ball, the ball has to move a lot quicker, a lot of that stuff has to happen and tonight it didn’t. Yeah we’re missing some guys but guys had the opportunity to step in and try to show that this time of year they might be able to help us and again from start to finish it was never right and we were too far away from them for much of the night, they had way too much time on the ball. If there were duals, we lost most of them so that’s something that has to be cleaned up. So, 100% we will discuss this, but we also have to put it behind us because we got a game in another few days.”
Thoughts on Ralph and Jahkeele’s debuts…
“I wish it was in a game that was closer but in the end their opportunity came, and I thought they came on and did fine. By the time they came on in the game there wasn’t a lot left in it. I thought Jahkeele was spry, he had himself a great opportunity, the best one that we had all game, I thought he was busy and active. I think, Ralph came on and was able to get the game under him a little bit and help us to win a couple balls and help us move the ball forward a little bit. So, it was nice for those guys to just get a feel for it all. It’s unfortunate it was on a night like tonight where a lot of other things weren’t going well but I’m at least happy for them to at least get a sniff.”
Not often we see three substitutions before the second half, can you walk us through those changes?
“With the way the game was going in the first half I just felt like we needed an outlet on some level. We weren’t able to combine through them, we weren’t moving quick enough, the ball wasn’t moving quick enough for us to play through their pressure. We needed an outlet at some point so we got Pat on to try and give us at least something that if we had to play a little more direct we could compete a little bit better to hold things up or knock things down so that was the Pat scenario. Then the two at half-time were Marky, we needed to get off just to check on him, he was getting a little tight there and we needed really for precaution as well as concern we had to get him off of the field. Justin in for Auro, more to get Justin ready and moving forward, put a left footed player on that side so he could drive forward a little bit more to get us out of pressure if we needed to, nothing more than that, to get some guys going. Justin who hasn’t played in a few weeks and also to try to protect Marky a little bit, hopefully whatever he’s feeling is not anything for us to be too concerned about.”
MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
How easy is it to put a performance like that behind you?
“Anybody who has played or has been a part of football understands that unfortunately there are night’s like this. They’re not fun, there’s no excuses but unfortunately, it’s just part of it sometimes. We have a really good team and we’ve had a really good team over the past handful of years and we’ve been fortunate enough and good enough to make sure that night’s like this are as few and far between as possible but the reality is still that it can happen to anybody. The reality is very simple, we are going to make sure that we use it as a real reminder for us as we go into this last part of the season and into the playoffs of what games this time of year are like of the way that some of these different teams try to make the game hard on us, we’re going to use it as a reminder about what our mentality and just commitment and focus has to be like at the beginning of games and so were going to use it in all the right ways and at the same time we’re going to get back to Hartford and we’re going to wake up in the morning and in all the right ways we’re going to completely move on and get ourselves ready for Wednesday.”
How difficult is it to see through the 90 minutes when it seems like at every step, every turn something is going wrong?
“That part of it is real. The challenge of still finishing out a game when you’ve had a night like that, when you get into the middle of the second half and now there’s no chance to win, to still find the right way to finish the game, that part is not fun but it’s just something that everybody has to deal with. To answer the first part of your question, like I said we’re going to look at certain things, we’re going to talk about certain things, we’re going to make sure we use it as a reminder, as a recalibration of what we need to be about as we move into these last few games of the regular season and into the playoffs. But again, there’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves, and nobody’s panicking, I promise you that.”
Debuts for Ralph and Jahkeele, what did you see from them tonight and what have you seen from them in training in terms of their development and being ready for this stage…
“Let’s be honest, that’s far and away the best part of the night is that two young Toronto boys from our academy who’ve worked hard to sign first team contracts and now push themselves in this last stretch in training every single day. They both get the opportunity to make their debut, to get on the field and both of them showed that they are not going to be fazed one bit. Certainly, for all us on the inside of the group and hopefully for everybody connected to the club, the coaches in the academy that they’ve had along the way, their parents, their families, that should be a really proud moment.”
TORONTO FC AND STATE OF CONNECTICUT SET TO WELCOME FANS AT NOVEMBER 1 GAME Toronto FC and the State of Connecticut announced today that fans will be able to purchase tickets for Toronto FC’s last regular season home game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field on Sunday, November 1 against Inter Miami CF.
“We look forward to having some fans in the stands for our final regular season game in East Hartford,” said Toronto FC President Bill Manning. “Toronto FC is so grateful to the state of Connecticut and everyone at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for providing us with such an outstanding facility during this unique stretch of games. Our players feel the support already and having some fans will make it even better.”
The attendance will be capped at 5,000 with two prices points in the 38,000 seat stadium. Select seating will be available in both the lower and upper bowls of the stadium. All patrons in attendance will be required to wear a mask or face covering and adhere to social distancing within the stadium.
“We’ve consulted with state and local public health officials and as long as certain health protocols are met, we believe that having a limited audience can safely be done, especially considering that this is an outdoor stadium,” Governor of Connecticut Ned Lamont said. “I look forward to the day when we can fill the Rent back up to capacity. I appreciate Toronto FC and Major League Soccer for working with our administration so that we could make this happen.”
Toronto FC currently sit atop the standings for both the Supporters’ Shield and Eastern Conference with a record of 11-2-5 and 38 points from 18 matches. The Reds have five matches remaining in the regular season. TFC host Atlanta United FC on Sunday, October 18 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The Reds will then travel to Philadelphia to meet the Union on Saturday, October 24, followed by home matches with New York City FC on Wednesday, October 28 and Inter Miami CF on Sunday, November 1. TFC will conclude the regular season on Sunday, November 8 at Red Bull Arena against the Red Bulls in MLS Decision Day.
TORONTO FC (1) – NEW YORK RED BULLS (1) POST MATCH SUMMARY
TFC – Alejandro Pozuelo 23’ (PK)
NYR – Caden Clark 77’ (Marc Rzatkowski)
NYR – Dru Yearwood 22’ (caution)
NYR – Marc Rzatkowski 52’ (caution
TFC – Pablo Piatti 53’ (caution)
TFC – Ayo Akinola 60’ (caution)
NYR – Amro Tarek 71’ (caution)
TORONTO FC: 11-2-5 38 PTS.
NEW YORK RED BULLS: 7-8-3 24 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea; Jonathan Osorio (C), Marky Delgado, Nick DeLeon (Patrick Mullins 82’), Pablo Piatti (Tsubasa Endoh 67’), Alejandro Pozuelo, Ayo Akinola
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Silva, Laurent Ciman, Tony Gallacher, Erickson Gallardo, Liam Fraser, Ralph Priso, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty
NY RED BULLS – Ryan Meara; Kyle Duncan, Tim Parker, Amro Tarek, Jason Pendant; Jared Stroud (Caden Clark 59’), Dru Yearwood, Florian Valot, Marc Rzatkowski (Sean Davis 82’); Brian White (Daniel Royer 59’), Tom Barlow (Samuel Tetteh 68’)
Substitutes Not Used: David Jensen, Mandela Egbo, Aaron Long, Sean Nealis, Mathias Jorgensen
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
On the Red Bulls goal, it’s a spectacular strike, but could your players have done a better job of nipping that play in the bud?
“Yeah possibly, I mean I would like to get pressure to the ball. When you play the Red Bulls it’s all about where you lose the ball and we lost the ball in our half of the field, which turns into a little bit of a quick counter where we have to reorganize and figure out how to get pressure to the ball. I have to see it again to see who should have stepped, and what happened but…it’s a great strike too. So, you have to give credit for that. But we should have gotten out of that transition and not lost the ball in the position that we did and then we put ourselves into a defending scenario in transition and we didn’t get pressure to the ball. So now, having said that, we had more than enough chances in the game … especially leading up to that point … that it would’ve been nice to pick up the second one. I think that would have iced it for us. But I’m proud of the guys to put in a shift today because this is a game on three days rest and the fourth one in a series of five here and the guys battled. No matter what Red Bulls team, they’re always gonna be chaotic. They’re just launching the ball up the field. You have to win first balls and second balls. If you try to get pressure to the ball then they’re gonna try to play through, over the top and pick up second balls so it’s always going to be a little bit funky and tonight we lost a few too many balls in our half of the field that we don’t like to lose. A couple guys taking too many touches and getting caught in possession that led to transitions. But having said all that, we had four quality chances to get ahold of the game on the second goal and just weren’t able to put it away.”
Given the schedule did you expect this game to be a grind?
“I was concerned about this game. We’ve been on a great run. They’re a team coming off of one day extra of rest. There were a number of other things that concerned me a little bit about this game, as it being one where we really needed to try to get on the other side of it in a positive way. Every point matters, so I’m not going say anything bad about us being able to take a point away tonight, which is a good thing. Now, we get the extra day of recovery and as we go into the final game of the stretch, we’ll get guys turned around and a group ready to compete again on Sunday. So, every point matters. So that’s critical. Our guys are disappointed because they want to win every game and we had the chances to win the game. That’s the way we look at it but we’re going to regroup. We will be ready to go for the next one against Atlanta.”
You’ve been able to win a lot of 1-0 games, but does that become tough to do repeatedly?
“Yeah, for sure. I would say especially against a team like the Red Bulls who are super opportunistic. That’s their whole game for ninety minutes, it is about being opportunistic. It’s about second balls, transitions, short possessions where they can win the ball in turnovers in the attacking half of the field. Or if they can clean up a second ball when they lump it up to the forwards, then they’re trying to play for direct off of that. And set pieces obviously. So, for them, those are the moments they play for. That’s the whole style. And so, they’re trying to create a little bit of chaos within the game and utilize those transitions and so that’s the team that you always want to put away when you have the opportunity. Because the game never looks as clean as you’d like it to, especially when you have guys with a little bit-tired legs and just are not as sharp, as clean as you would like them to be. For sure, you want to get the second one and you want to try to put the distance in between when you have those opportunities.”
QUENTIN WESTBERG – GOALKEEPER, TORONTO FC
Red Bulls goal was a terrific strike into the top corner, could anyone of stopped that?
“I wish I had. Sometimes you need to give the goal scorer credit for doing what he did, and I think that’s the case tonight. It looks like he turned in a very tight space and in a small pocket and he released a nice strike. I wish I made the save but sometimes you need to appreciate the game and goods goals being scored and I think tonight, this young guy had a banger, so congrats to him. It’s just unfortunate it happened against us but in the end, I love soccer, when I look back, I think it’s a beautiful goal.”
In a game where you made a number of good, key saves, do you let that goal linger in your mind or do you get on with it and take solace in the fact that you kept the team in the match?
“As soon as you take it, it’s part of the past. You maybe take 5-10 seconds to reassess to realize it, but it’s onto the next. I like to think my position in particular you need to be struck by amnesia a little bit. You need to forget on one hand the good saves but also the mistakes or goals taken, you need to concentrate on your task and do what’s necessary for the team and make good decisions. If you want to make good decisions, you need to have a clear mind so whether I take a goal or whether I make a save it’s all part of the past as soon as it’s done. Being as calm as possible, being as lucid as possible to make good decisions, to give good information and if you’re still under the emotion of this or that then maybe you’re taking away a little something that can create another chance for the opponent or that can create a little bit of frustration for your teammates or yourself. As soon as it hits the net it’s finished and it’s onto the next task.”
What were some factors that decided the game tonight?
“There are a few, but it was a particular style of play they have and we were well prepared, we knew they were going to come out hard or it was a possibility, which they did, they were very aggressive but they still left us with a few chances in transition, so it was a game of styles. For sure, we didn’t play our best football tonight, but we did alright adapting. We created chances without possession which is always a good sign but also it’s a little different for us to not have the ball that much and it was a challenge, it was a challenge for sure and you need to give the Red Bulls some credit for their mentality and their efforts. They created a lot of chaos and trouble for us but at the same time, playing the long game, I like our style of play better and we just need to be very well aware that whatever the conditions, whatever the press, whatever the team this is where we find refuge, our style of play, our possession based football, our position football needs to be established whatever the context.”
TORONTO FC CLINCHES SPOT IN 2020 AUDI MLS CUP PLAYOFFS Toronto FC has become the first team in Major League Soccer to clinch a playoff berth in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, following tonight’s 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati. This marks the club’s fifth playoff appearance in the past six seasons.
Toronto FC currently sit atop the standings for both the Supporters’ Shield and Eastern Conference with a record of 11-2-4 and 37 points from 17 matches. The Reds have six matches remaining in the regular season. Next week, TFC will host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, October 14 and Atlanta United FC on Sunday, October 18 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The Reds will then travel to Philadelphia to meet the Union, followed by home matches with New York City FC and Inter Miami CF, before concluding the regular season on Sunday, November 8 at Red Bull Arena against the Red Bulls in MLS Decision Day.
The 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will consist of single-elimination matches following a bracket format with MLS Cup set for Saturday, December 12.
TORONTO FC (1) – NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY
TFC – Ayo Akinola 29’
NE – Tommy McNamara 40’ (caution)
NE – Henry Kessler 48’ (caution)
NE – Brandon Bye 63’ (caution)
TFC – Auro 71’ (caution)
TFC – Richie Laryea 84’ (caution)
NE – Teal Bunbury 90’+3 (caution)
Alex Bono made his 100th start, earned his club leading 50th win and set a new club record for clean sheets with 29 (all totals in all competitions)
Toronto FC recorded its first win in New England since August 4, 2013
TORONTO FC: 10-2-4 34 PTS.
NEW ENGLAND: 5-4-7 22 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Richie Laryea, Laurent Ciman, Chris Mavinga, Tony Gallacher (Auro 56’); Jonathan Osorio (C), Marky Delgado, Nick DeLeon (Liam Fraser 70’), Pablo Piatti (Omar Gonzalez 85’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Ayo Akinola (Patrick Mullins 86’)
Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Eriq Zavaleta, Erickson Gallardo, Tsubasa Endoh, Jayden Nelson
NEW ENGLAND – Matt Turner; Brandon Bye (Kelyn Rowe 68’), Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones (Alexander Buttner 80’); Scott Caldwell (C), Tommy McNamara, Tajon Buchanan, Lee Nguyen (Cristian Penilla 68’), Diego Fagundez (Teal Bunbury 80’); Adam Buksa
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Michael Mancienne, Antonio Mlinar Delamea, Seth Sinovic, Kekuta Manneh
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Three wins in a row and unbeaten in six, you must be feeling good about your squad?
“Yeah, tonight is a different kind of proud. This is a tough place to play. It hasn’t been friendly to us over the years. And this was a tough game. This was a scrap it out battle for every inch kind of game. You’ve got to protect your goal, protect your box. You’re fighting for space just to move the ball and you’re trying to break on the counter sometimes. A little different look, but I’m proud of the guys. They stood strong and resilient and we created some good chances in the transition. I know Ayo when he came off said, “I should have had three.” But that’s him being humble and being the kind of worker that we need at the top right now. The release that he was able to give us throughout the game when everybody else was working. You’ve got to win like this, especially in places like this and I thought it was an incredible effort.”
Can you talk about the job Richie Laryea did on the defensive side?
“This is a tough game for both fullbacks. They’re a team that really gets their fullbacks pushing high. If you don’t get a lot of pressure on the ball early, they get those fullbacks high and there are a lot of decisions to be made. You get put in a lot of one on one situations with the overloads they put on one side and Richie did a phenomenal job of making good decisions, which is showing more of his progression in the position. His ability to close down, get tight to guys and defend one on one, to stand guys up at the right times, I thought he had a very mature performance, and a different kind of performance. Usually, in games he impacts a lot more on the attacking side. Tonight, he showed that he continues to grow on the defensive side. I thought he was excellent.”
Was there a particular reason for Omar Gonzalez not starting?
“No, not really. Just a little bit of a rotation. We have to play these games back to back on turf. So, with that being said, I don’t really want to put any of these guys, if I don’t have to, two games in a row on turf, especially with the way these games are coming so fast. So, it’s more of a management choice. I thought Laurent stood strong tonight. He did a great job. He and Chris are a nice pair. They do well on the field. They have such a good relationship on and off the field that they did a nice job. We saw it in the playoffs. I have full confidence in those guys. That gave us a chance for Omar, who has played a ton of minutes through all of these stretches, to catch his breath tonight and it was nice for us to not have to put him on the turf two games in a row.”
Can you talk about Alex Bono and what kind of teammate he has been?
“Yeah, Alex came in the offseason. He went off and trained somewhere and he just gained some experience in that trial. He also gained some perspective. He came back talking about how happy he is to be here, and he saw things from a little different perspective. He just came back ready to work every single day. What I’ve seen is him get back that full level of confidence that he had, that certainty. He has belief, but I think now he’s confident and really believes that he is again back to where he was. I don’t need to document it, but he had a tough stretch, where everybody had a tough stretch in 2018. And I think over the course of this time and a bit at the end of last year, he’s really just found some peace and some confidence again, and assuredness. He looks solid back there. I know there were a couple of crosses he’d like to have back. That’s one of his bread and butter strengths and one of the reasons why we thought he would do great in this game, to help us snatch some of those crosses that were hanging up there. But he just looks really assured out there and he has three shutouts, and all three of them were great performances. He continues to compete. We’ve got two good goalkeepers right now. Two goalkeepers I believe are in form and we’re going to try to keep it that way and see where we go.”
ALEX BONO – GOALKEEPER, TORONTO FC
Every time you’ve been called on you’ve done the job, you haven’t let a goal in, how difficult has it been this season?
“Yeah, it’s obviously difficult but I just want to start off by thanking this organization. Thanking Toronto FC, thanking the front office and my coaches for allowing me to have the opportunity to play as many games for such an awesome club. This is all I know from a professional standpoint and I’ve learned so much here along the way. I’ve been here for six years now, if you told me that six years down the road I would have started 100 games when I first walked into the training facility, I probably would of thought you were crazy and I’m so honoured and I’m so blessed to be part of this organization and so grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me. 100 games is 100 games, whether you get it in three years, four years, six years, it’s 100 games and I’m obviously very proud and very honoured. It has been a different role for me and all I’ve been focusing on is going in day in and day out training as hard as I can, try to put myself in the best position that when I do get these opportunities that I take them with my full ability because I’ve lived it as much as anyone, you don’t know when the next one is going to come, so for me to be able to take them one at a time. I thought I was a little sloppy today but at the end of the day, it’s another shutout, that’s a full team shutout, full team effort and I’m really proud of the game today.”
What are your thoughts on passing Stefan Frei for most clean sheets in club history?
“I’ve played against him a few times and in the limited conversation, he seems like an awesome guy. He was obviously before my time here and he’s a fantastic goalkeeper, so I’m not going to speak to his tenure at Toronto FC. For me again, I’m just so incredibly honoured and grateful for the opportunities that have been put in front of me from the team and the organization and the coaching staff. I can’t say enough that it is the guys around me that make my job easy. You’ve seen these last few games that I’ve been playing have really been scrappy games, fights, dog fights from minute one to minute 90 and you can’t keep zeros on the board if all 11 guys aren’t on the same page, so I can say that for every single shutout that we’ve accumulated that I’ve been in net for. From that perspective, I’m not too focused on the individual records, I just want to play games and I want to have fun and I want to win, that’s all that matters to me. So as long as I get opportunities to do that, I’m a happy man.”
Greg said your training stint with a club in England left an impression with you, what impact did it have on you?
“Yeah definitely. The first day I went back in the training ground that I got back, I walked in the doors and said we’re so blessed to be part of this Toronto FC organization. The way that this club treats the players, the facilities that we have, all the people that surround us day in and day out all the resources we have as a club and as an organization are simply unmatched and that’s not just in North America. Granted, it was a Championship club that I was training at and they were fighting to stay in the Championship but it’s still a high level of soccer. For me to come back and walk back into our facilities and see the guys and girls that help us day in and day out from top to bottom it’s just a first-class organization and to be part of it I’m so incredibly honoured. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it when I went to train, I learned a lot in the couple weeks I was there but at the end of the day I walked back in the training facility and said this is really really special. I hope that guys that have been other places that come here, obviously notice it. It’s the one thing I tell the young guys and the one thing that was told to me when I came in was listen it doesn’t get much better than this across the league and that really is the truth, you can’t say enough good things about this organization and the opportunities they provide for us.”
TORONTO FC (2) – PHILADELPHIA UNION (1) POST MATCH SUMMARY
PHI – Sergio Santos 5’
TFC – Ayo Akinola 58’ (Tony Gallacher)
TFC – Alejandra Pozuelo 76’ (Pablo Piatti)
PHI – Jose Martinez 83’ (caution)
TORONTO FC: 9-2-4 31 PTS.
PHILADELPHIA: 8-3-4 28 PTS.
TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Richie Laryea, Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow (Tony Gallacher 39’); Jonathan Osorio (C), Marky Delgado, Pablo Piatti (Tsubasa Endoh 86’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Ayo Akinola (Patrick Mullins 86’), Jozy Altidore (Nick DeLeon 53’)
Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Laurent Ciman, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Jayden Nelson
PHILADELPHIA – Andre Blake; Olivier Mbaizo, Jakob Glesnes, Mark McKenzie, Matt Real (Andrew Wooten 86’); Alejandro Bedoya (C), Jose Martinez, Jamiro Monteiro, Brenden Aaronson (Anthony Fontana 66’); Sergio Santos (Ilsinho 71’), Kacper Przybylko
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Bendik, Aurelien Collin, Jack Elliott, Matej Oravec, Michee Ngalina
GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
Third win over a tough Eastern opponent. Do you applaud your team for finding ways to win or do you think, ‘we’ve got to stop giving up the first goal to put us in a tough situation?
“Both. We do need to stop conceding the first goal. We need to start better. That’s one. But I do think that, by and large, in the last couple of games specifically, not so much in the New York game, we’re starting to control games. We controlled the game, we played the majority of it in the attacking half. We’ve had good possession, we’ve pinned the opposition back. The first half we didn’t create as many chances as I’d like for the amount of the ball that we had. So, we tried to adjust a little bit of our movements for the second half, to try to open up some spaces. I thought we got a little bit better at doing that and creating chances. But with the way the schedule is, with the way everything’s going, and good opponents and teams that specifically defend well like Columbus and Philadelphia, you have got to attack really well and you’ve got to really execute, because you’re probably not going to get as many chances as you get in some other games. And we executed in some moments today. So that’s really good, so you have to applaud the guys for finding ways. But to answer the first part of the question, we do need to stop playing from behind and stop giving up early goals. And they’re not even great goals, that’s the problem. They’re goals that one hundred percent need to be cleaned up.”
You take pride in being able to win in a variety of different ways with this group. How would you characterize this win, because it looked like there were a few themes on the night?
“Yeah, I think that there was some patience involved. Like I said, I felt like in the first half we controlled a lot of the possession, we played a lot of the game in their half of the field, that’s how I felt. But having said that, we didn’t create a lot of chances, a lot of great clear chances. But we are in good areas on the field. We had to manage the transition a few times and crosses things like that, we had to deal with it. Obviously, Q had to make an important save. Part of that was just in the transition, us getting a little bit pulled apart and them having too much space. But every now and then you’re going to give up a shot from distance and Q made an incredible save. But I thought we stayed patient in the idea that the chances and the goals were going to come if we just did the right things and made some adjustments in terms of how we were moving. The opportunities that we were looking for would come. But we had to also be solid defensively. They have two big forwards who are mobile, who are a handful to defend. And for a lot of the game, Aaronson, who plays underneath them, who is quick and shifty. And I thought we did a nice job of making it really difficult for him to impact the game. But those two forwards are handful, especially on balls that are served into the box. Or balls that are played out. But I thought we did a lot of things solid on the night. It’s the first game back after being away for eight days, and so we have to rebuild that rhythm. But it was a good start against a good team. Good start to the five-game stretch. Not a good start to the actual game itself.”
Can you give an update on Jozy and Justin?
“I don’t have great information yet. Jozy, it seems to be it looks like a minor hamstring issue. I don’t know how minor or not minor. He says that soreness is there. We’ll have to see. We don’t exactly what the time frame looks like until we get a scan and we get a sense of what it is. As far as Justin, it was more just calf tightness that started to build a little bit in the warmup. So, we were aware that he was feeling sort of the onset of it, but he felt like he could go, and he could give it a go. He wasn’t sure how long, or if it would continue to tighten. So, we were communicating because he was right in front of the bench, as things were going. He was going to go as long as he felt like he was in a safe zone but if it started to progress then we were going to get him off. So that kind of happens a little bit there before the end of the first half. But he thinks he’s fine. We will get him some treatment. We will try to loosen it up. We don’t think it’s anything specific. We think it might be just a byproduct of a change of surface, or something that’s maybe causing a little bit of that. So how it changes the rotation … obviously we’re down a forward if Jozy’s out for some period of time. That puts Pat back into the rotation. Maybe it brings, at times, Poz back into the middle. There’s plenty of things that we will do to adjust. We’ll miss Jozy because I really felt like he was starting to pick up his rhythm with everybody. I thought he was starting to move in a good way. He was maybe a little bit away from the goal through the course of the first half, but I think that was just a product that Poz was inside a lot so that Jozy was drifting a little bit wider and that was one of the things that we wanted to adjust a touch in the second half but it didn’t last too long for Jozy. So, we ended up moving Poz to the inside and bringing Nick to deal with the outside, and I think that opened up a few things for us.”
JONATHAN OSORIO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Two wins against two top teams in the conference is Rentschler Field beginning to feel like home?
“Yeah, a little bit for sure. We’re doing our best to use it to our advantage and make it a home advantage and we’re trying to do that with the way we play here and getting two wins against two big opponents helps a lot. It helps for the confidence of the team to play on this field and we’re getting comfortable in playing in this environment. It’s not easy, of course we wish there was fans and it’s a much better atmosphere when there is and for our supporters and everything. It is what it is. We’ve been dealing with it for most of the year now, but these two wins definitely help get us more comfortable playing here at The Rent. It’s always nice to win.”
What does this team remind you of?
“I think a little bit of the 2017 team. We’re in a good rhythm right now, we’re playing really good football. I think we played well in the last game and a half against two really strong teams, two teams that are top of the league. I think this team is coming together now. We went through a little bit of a transition in the beginning of 2019. I still think that throughout the whole year we always had that quality it was just getting the system down, getting used to a little bit of a different system and players getting used to the philosophy that we play with here. Once that happened and everything started clicking and guys got healthy towards the end of last year that’s when you saw the quality that we had. Like you said, we were resilient, and I think we’ve brought that over to this year and you’ve seen over the last two games with the come from behind wins. But I think this year we’re dominating games in a better way, in the way we want to and we’re playing really positive football.”
ALEJANDRO POZUELO – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
Another big game from you, is this best you’ve ever played?
“No, I don’t think so. I had a good period in another team, I know I feel good. The more important thing is the team. We play very good football, we started losing but we kept going and pushing and the three points is the most important.”
Do you set any type of goal to have an MVP caliber year?
“No, this is not my goal. My goal now in this moment is to be fit because we have a lot of games and the most important is not to be injured and try to play all the games possible and working for the team. This is my goal in this moment. If you’re thinking about the MVP (award) this is no good. Now in this moment we need to keep working for the team, we need to keep working in training and this is a good example for the young guys also.”